Children's Mental Health

It is the goal of Sherburne County Health and Human Services to ensure effective and accessible mental health services and supports for children and families in our area. Health and Human Services staff works together with many public and private partners across the County so that children and youth with mental health needs can develop and function as fully as possible in all areas of their lives.

Mental health matters at every stage of life and requires an integrated continuum of services ranging from prevention to recovery. Sherburne County is committed to creating consistent quality, access and accountability for these services through comprehensive diagnostic assessments and evidence-based treatments that consider children's characteristics, circumstances and culture. These efforts will result in better outcomes and reduce health care disparities among children.

Children's Mental Health Services are VOLUNTARY services


To be eligible for Rule 79 Children's Mental Health Services, a child must meet the criteria for "Child with severe emotional disturbance", MN Statute 245.4871 Subd. 6.

For purposes of eligibility for case management and family community support services, "child with severe emotional disturbance" means a child who has an emotional disturbance and who meets one of the following criteria:

  1. The child has been admitted within the last three years or is at risk of being admitted to inpatient treatment or residential treatment for an emotional disturbance; or
  2. the child is a Minnesota resident and is receiving inpatient treatment or residential treatment for an emotional disturbance through the interstate compact; or
  3. the child has one of the following as determined by a mental health professional
    1. psychosis or a clinical depression; or
    2. risk of harming self or others as a result of an emotional disturbance; or
    3. psychopathological symptoms as a result of being a victim of physical or sexual abuse or of psychic trauma within the past year.
  4. the child, as a result of an emotional disturbance, has significantly impaired home, school, or community functioning that has lasted at least one year or that, in the written opinion of a mental health professional, presents substantial risk of lasting at least one year. The term "child with severe emotional disturbance" shall be used only for purposes of county eligibility determinations. In all other written and oral communications, case managers, mental health professionals, mental health practitioners, and all other providers of mental health service shall use the term "child eligible for mental health case management" in place of "child with severe emotional disturbance."

To make a referral: Contact the Sherburne County Children's Mental Health Intake Worker at 763-765-4000 or 1-800-433-5239. The worker will:

  • Meet with the family to determine needs
  • Receive supporting documentation from the schools, hospitals, mental health professionals and other pertinent sources
  • Assist the family to obtain a current Diagnostic Assessment, if needed.
  • Complete a functional assessment
  • Request approval for Rule 79 services from Mental Health Professional and supervisor.

Earlier interventions may reduce the need for more intrusive and expensive interventions later. Service availability is dependent upon the needs of the child. In all cases, third party reimbursement is sought before County funds are utilized.

Children's Mental Health Services

If a child is determined to be eligible for Children's Mental Health Services, the following services may be available:

  • Children's Mental Health Case Management Services
  • Day Treatment
  • Foster Care
  • Hospitalization
  • In-Home Skills Training
  • In-Home Therapy
  • Outpatient Counseling
  • Personal Care Attendants (PCA)
  • Residential Treatment
  • Respite Care
  • Therapeutic Foster Care

Less restrictive options are always tried first.

How do I know there is a problem?

The following is a developmental checklist to help you to know if a problem may exist:

  • Infants (0-12 months)
    • Jumpy or jittery, over-reacting to noise, touches or light
    • Does not notice when touched or when things are going on nearby
    • Too much fussing or crying, inability to be soothed or comforted
    • Lack of harmony between parent and child
    • Never smiles, cries or responds to caregiver
  • Toddlers (1-3 years)
    • Delays of at least 6 months in walking, talking, social or other behavior
    • Hand waving or hand-clapping that does not stop
    • Self-destructive behavior such as biting or head banging
    • Aggressive behavior directed at other people or things
    • Uncontrollable anger
    • Unable to become connected to people who take care of the child
    • Overly dependent or overly obedient
    • Persistent unhappiness or crying
    • Lack of play activity or imitation of parents
    • Delayed language
  • Preschoolers & Kindergartners (4-6 years)
    • Unable to verbally express wants and needs
    • Anxious or fearful, depressed mood, total lack of interest in or withdrawing from other people
    • Unable to separate from parents
    • Lack of confidence, which keeps the child from having fun
    • Not interested in or unable to play with other children
    • Unable to control his/her own behaviors
    • Aggressive behavior
    • Refusal to comply with rules and expectations
    • Persistent eating or sleeping problems
    • Daytime toileting problems
    • Persistent constipation or diarrhea
  • School-Age Children (7-12 years)
    • Depressed mood, loss of interest in activities and relationships
    • Trouble sleeping or difficulty with eating
    • Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, suicidal talk to action
    • Continued resistance to attending school
    • Headaches or stomach aches that keep occurring but don't seem to have a cause
    • Easily distractible or unable to pay attention
    • Poor school work, including being very behind in reading or math
    • Aggressive or hurtful behavior
    • School work or attendance that is going downhill
    • Acting out sexual behaviors that are inappropriate for the child's age
    • Lying, stealing, fire-starting, cruelty to animals
    • Sexual or physical aggression
    • Constant refusal to comply with rules at home or at school
    • Truancy, chemical abuse, running away
    • Inability to develop values, morals, relationships or educational goals
  • Adolescents (13-19 years)
    • Difficult concentrating, remembering or making decisions
    • Depressed mood, loss of interest in activities and relationships, isolated, lack or friends
    • Trouble sleeping or difficult with eating
    • Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, suicidal talk or action, giving away possessions
    • Declining school performance or attendance
    • Sexual or physical aggression towards others
    • Sexual intrusiveness or promiscuity
    • Chronic resistance to complying with rules at home, school or in the community
    • Truancy, chemical abuse, running away
    • Eating disorder, unusual eating patterns
    • Conflicts around personal identity, such as values, morality, relationships, sexuality, vocational or educational goals
    • Dramatic personality changes
    • Changes in dress, mood
    • Lying, stealing, fire-starting, cruelty to animals
    • Lack of remorse
    • Anxious, nervous

Where do I start and who can help?

Contact more than one person: If you can't get help from one person, try another!

  • Classroom Teacher
  • Family Physician
  • Pediatrician
  • School Social Worker
  • School Administrator
  • County Social Worker
  • Religious Leader
  • Public Health
  • Local Mental Health Agency

Websites & Resources

Children's Mental Health Laws and Rules

The following list includes many statutes, laws, and rules governing services to children and youth with mental health needs. Please note that some of these regulate services only available to children covered by Minnesota Health Care Programs.

The Minnesota Comprehensive Children's Mental Health Act establishes basic standards for children's mental health services in Minnesota. It is primarily directed at counties, which are designated as local mental health authorities.

Publications and reports

View publications and reports related to children's mental health.

Health & Human Services Contact:

Sherburne County Govt Center
ATTN: Health & Human Services
13880 Business Center Dr NW
Suite 100
Elk River, MN 55330-4668

Office Location & Hours

Phone: 763-765-4000
Fax: 763-765-4096
Contact Sherburne County with your questions, comments and feedback