Department of Children and Families

Community Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services

For assistance, call 850-487-1111 or visit

What is the purpose of the program?

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Program is governed by Chs. 394397, and 916 Florida Statutes, and develops the standards of quality care for prevention, treatment, and recovery services. The department is statutorily responsible for licensure and regulation of substance use disorder treatment services, and designation of addiction and Baker Act receiving facilities.

How is the program administered?

The Department of Children and Families does not directly provide community-based behavioral health services. Instead, it contracts for the delivery of services through seven managing entities. The managing entities are responsible for the planning, implementation, administration, monitoring, data collection and reporting, and analysis for behavioral health care in their regions. Managing entities contract with local network service providers for the provision of prevention, treatment, and recovery support services. Managing entities also work to create linkages among various services and systems, including juvenile justice and adult criminal justice, child welfare, housing services, homeless systems of care, and health.

What services does the program provide?

The programs provided services for 452,537 individuals in Fiscal Year 2020-21; 215,964 adults and 236,573 children.

  • Mental Health Services for Adults
    • Assessment determines the services, supports, and level of care needed.
    • Crisis Support is outpatient services available 24-hours per day, seven days per week for crisis intervention or to provide emergency care.
    • Crisis Stabilization is an acute care service, offered 24-hours per day, seven days per week, which provides brief, intensive mental health residential treatment services. This service meets the needs of individuals who are experiencing an acute crisis and who, in the absence of a suitable alternative, would require hospitalization.
    • Florida Assertive Community Treatment (FACT) teams, in an effort to promote independent, integrated living for individuals with severe and persistent psychiatric disorders, provide a 24-hours-per-day, seven-days-per-week multidisciplinary approach to deliver comprehensive care to people where they live, work or go to school, and spend their leisure time.
    • In-Home and On-Site Services are therapeutic services and supports provided in non-mental health provider settings such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities, residences, schools, detention centers, commitment settings, foster homes, and other community settings.
    • Intervention Services focus on reducing risk factors generally associated with the progression of substance abuse and mental health problems. 
    • Inpatient Services provide intensive treatment to individuals exhibiting violent behaviors, suicidal behaviors, and other severe disturbances due to substance abuse or mental illness. These services are provided in general hospitals or psychiatric specialty hospitals.
    • Residential Treatment provides supervision 24-hours per day, seven days per week and include structured rehabilitation-oriented group facilities that house persons who have significant deficits in independent living skills and need extensive support and supervision. Residential treatment includes short-term residential treatment and adult group homes for those requiring longer lengths of stay.
    • Outpatient Services provide a therapeutic environment that is designed to improve the functioning, or prevent further deterioration, of persons with mental health and/or substance abuse problems. Outpatient services are usually provided on a regularly scheduled basis by appointment, with arrangements made for non-scheduled visits during times of increased stress or crisis.
    • Medical Services are designed to improve functioning or prevent further deterioration of individuals with mental health or substance use issues by providing primary medical care, therapy, and medication administration. 
  • Mental Health Services for Children provides funding for in-home and community based outpatient services, crisis services, and residential treatment including services at psychiatric residential treatment facilities, therapeutic foster care homes, and therapeutic group homes provided through joint Medicaid and Mental Health Program contracts with behavioral health managed entities and providers).
  • Juvenile Incompetent to Proceed Program provides competency restoration services to juveniles who have been charged with a felony prior to their 18th birthday and do not have the ability to participate in legal proceedings due to their mental illness, mental retardation, or autism. The goal is to provide assessment, evaluation and intensive competency restoration services to allow the juvenile to return to court and proceed with their court proceedings. Competency restoration services are available in both the community and in a secure residential setting.  
  • Substance Abuse Services for Adults and Children
    • Prevention services are designed to preclude, forestall, or impede the development of substance abuse problems, primarily for youth, through increasing public awareness and education, community-based processes and evidence-based practices.
    • Detoxification services use medical and clinical procedures to assist individuals in their efforts to withdraw from the physiological and psychological effects of substance abuse and may occur in a residential or outpatient setting.
    • Treatment services include an array of assessment, counseling, case management, and support provided in residential and non-residential (outpatient) settings for individuals and their families who have lost their abilities to control the substance use on their own and require formal, structured intervention and support. Services include various levels of residential, outpatient, and recovery support based on the severity of the addiction.
    • Recovery Support services are offered during and following treatment to further assist individuals in their development of the knowledge and skills necessary to maintain their recovery. Services include transitional housing, life skills training, parenting skills, and peer-based individual and group counseling.

Who does the program serve?

The substance abuse program serves adolescents and adults affected by substance misuse, abuse, or dependence.

The mental health program services are focused on

  • adults in crisis; people with serious, disabling, or potentially disabling mental illnesses who live in the community and who cannot otherwise access mental health care; and certain people with serious mental illnesses who get involved with the criminal justice system; and
  • children and adolescents who are experiencing an acute mental or emotional crisis; who have a serious emotional disturbance or mental illness; who have an emotional disturbance; who are at risk of emotional disturbance; and who are incompetent to proceed to a delinquency hearing due to their mental illness, intellectual disability, or autism.

How well does the program meet the mental health and substance abuse needs of Florida citizens?

Each of the program's client groups has performance measures and standards included in the department's Long Range Program Plan that provide an indication of the program's success in meeting needs. For example, 58% of children successfully completed substance abuse treatment services, above the legislative standard of 48% for Fiscal Year 2020-21. The following table shows selected performance measures for the program.  

Program Performance in Fiscal Year 2020-21
Measure Performance
Percentage of adults with serious mental illness who are competitively employed   32%
Percentage of school days seriously emotionally disturbed children attended   94%
Percentage of children with emotional disturbance with improved functioning   29%
Percentage of children with serious emotional disturbance with improved functioning  27%
Percentage of adults who successfully complete substance abuse treatment services   53%
Source: Long Range Program Plan, Department of Children and Families.


How are these activities funded?

Fifty-one percent of funding for community mental health and substance abuse is general revenue funds.
Fiscal Year: 2023-24
Title Fund Dollars Positions


Peer Specialists. The 2022 Legislature enacted Ch. 2022-13Laws of Florida, which promotes the use of peer specialists to assist an individual's recovery from substance use disorder or mental illness. The legislation recognizes peer specialists as an essential element of a coordinated system of care. The law includes requirements around certification and training; revises background screening requirements and adds offenses for which those seeking certification may seek an exemption from eligibility disqualification; allows peer specialists to work with adults while an exemption is pending; and doubles the number of days a service provider can work under the supervision of a certified peer specialist while an exemption is pending.   

Substance Abuse Service Providers. The 2022 Legislature enacted Ch. 2022-31Laws of Florida, which makes several changes to provisions governing the licensure and regulation of substance abuse treatment programs and providers, including recovery residences and recovery residence administrators. Those applying for licensure as substance abuse providers must identify recovery residences they will refer to and accept patients from; those already licensed must provide identify recovery residences they have referred patients to and accepted them from in a computer system maintained by the Department of Children and Families (DCF) by July 1, 2022. The law sets limits on the number of patients a certified recovery residence administrator may manage at one time. Additionally, the law requires the DCF to include approval for contingency management programs in its regional funding priorities.  

Mental Health of Students. The 2022 Legislature enacted Ch. 2022-126Laws of Florida, requires the Department of Education to annually share school-related involuntary examination data with the DCF for use in DCF's biennial analysis of involuntary examinations of minors in Florida. Charter schools are required to comply with involuntary examination data reporting requirements. The law also requires district superintendents to designate a mental health coordinator for each school district. Additionally, each school district's annual mental health assistance allocation plan must include policies and procedures that require the provision of information on additional behavioral health services and resources to students receiving services, their families, and anyone living in the same household as a student receiving services, when receiving those services could benefit the student's well-being.

Mental Health and Substance Abuse. The 2022 Legislature enacted Chs. 2022-36 and 2022-41, Laws of Florida, which makes several changes to procedures surrounding voluntary and involuntary examinations of individuals under the Baker and Marchman Acts.

Chapter 2022-36, Laws of Florida, authorizes emergency contact information to be released to certain entities and requires law enforcement officers to search certain electronic databases for the emergency contact information of patients being transported to a receiving facility; revises the conditions under which a patient's communications outside of a receiving facility may be restricted; and requires receiving facilities to offer voluntary patients the option to authorize the release of clinical information to specified individuals within 24 hours of admission. Additionally, the law makes revisions to protocols pertaining to the discharge of patients subject to an involuntary Baker Act examination, including permitting the use of telehealth and allowing specified psychiatric advanced practice registered nurses to conduct discharge examinations. The law also makes several changes related to the Commission on Mental Health and Substance Abuse pertaining to meetings; reimbursements; ability to access information and records, including exempt and confidential information; and moving the commission's interim report due date to January 1, 2023.

Chapter 2022-41, Laws of Florida, revises the voluntariness provision under the Baker Act to allow a minor's voluntary admission to a receiving facility or hospital after a clinical review of the minor's assent has been conducted, rather than a hearing on the minor's consent as required previously. Additionally, law enforcement officers transporting an individual to a receiving facility for an involuntary examination under the Baker or Marchman Acts are required to use restraint in the least restrictive manner available and appropriate under the circumstances. 

Where can I find related OPPAGA reports?

The Acute Care Services Utilization Database Meets Statutory Requirements; Limitations Exist for Certain Types of Analyses, Report 19-12, November 2019

Where can I get more information?

Other Reports
The Auditor General reports on department operations are located on its website.

2018 Report to Congress on the Prevention and Reduction of Underage Drinking  

Websites of Interest
Commission on Mental Health and Substance Abuse
Department of Children and Families, Get Help
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
National Institute on Drug Abuse
National Institutes of Mental Health

Performance Information
Performance measures and standards for the department may be found in its Long Range Program Plan. Planning and Performance Measures report the department's performance on external and internal measures for its various programs. The measures allow the user to view performance at both a statewide and geographic region level.

What are the applicable statutes?

Chapters 394397,  916, and s. 20.19, Florida Statutes.

Whom do I contact for help?

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Program, DCF Headquarters, 850-487-1111   

For emergencies, call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or 1-800-784-2433

Find your local mental health agency on the website.