Children's mental health

DHS has a substantial commitment to training mental health professionals, parents and other community partners interested in learning more about children’s and youth’s mental health needs and services. Training includes the following classes:

  • Core Clinical Training
  • Diagnostic Assessment 101
  • Early Childhood Mental Health
  • Evidence-Based Practices Training and Clinical Consultation
  • Mental Health Behavioral Aide (MHBA) – Parent Teaming Training
  • Mental Health Screening for Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Staff
  • Outcome Measures
  • Rule 79 Case Management Training
  • Staying Together
  • Trauma-Informed Care

  • Core Clinical Training

    Children’s Mental Health staff educates children’s mental health providers, counties and tribes about the administrative infrastructure and clinical standards required by Children’s Therapeutic Services and Supports (CTSS). This training is progressively updated to reflect developments, such as the recent revisions to the Outpatient Mental Health Services Rule (Rule 47). The sessions cover a variety of topics, including:

  • Children’s Mental Health Act and Services
  • Clinical Supervision
  • Diagnostic Assessments
  • • Health Services Record
  • • Mental Health Rehabilitation Skills Training
  • • Medicaid Compliance
  • Minnesota Health Care Programs
  • • Progress Notes
  • Treatment Planning

  • For more information and registration: TrainLink

    Diagnostic Assessment 101: An Online Course (MH631)

    "Diagnostic assessment" (DA) means a written assessment that documents a clinical and functional face-to-face evaluation of the client's mental health, including the nature, severity and impact of behavioral difficulties, functional impairment, and subjective distress of the client, and identifies the client's strengths and resources.

    The Children’s and Adult Mental Health Divisions have created this interactive online training experience for individual and provider agencies of outpatient mental health services. This training is designed to break down the new standards for the different types of diagnostic assessments as it relates to the new changes in the Outpatient Mental Health Services rule (9505.0370, 9505.0371, 9505.0372). This rule has been in effect since June 28, 2011.


    By completing the course, the learner will be able to:

    • Understand the role the DA plays within Minnesota outpatient mental health services paid for by medical assistance

    • Understand the four types of DAs that are now available

    • Understand what components are required for each type of DA

    • Understand why we require a substance use screening

    This online training is designed to provide a basic understanding of the purpose of the DA as well as the opportunity to learn the skills needed to complete a DA. This online training is available in the AMH Learning Center where there is more information about the course and registration process.

    Instructions for how to register for Diagnostic Assessment 101:

    • Go to DHS TrainLink:

    • If you DO NOT have a unique key id please go through the “Unique Key Request” process

    • Click the Adult and Children’s Mental Health Link then Click ‘Sign On’ in the upper right corner and enter your Unique Key and Click ‘GO’!

    • Click Course Search/Online Learning

    • Select AMH/CMH: Diagnostic Assessment 101 and click ‘GO’! and Select!

    • Go into “For registration information, click here”

    • Click on Start Course

    Early Childhood Mental Health

    The division offers numerous training opportunities to strengthen the state’s early childhood mental health system. These courses concentrating on young children, ages birth to five, include the following:

  • • Building Strong Foundations: Introduction to Infant Mental Health
  • DC: 0-3R (Introduction and Advanced Case Studies)
  • ECSII (Early Childhood Services Intensity Instrument) Training
  • Great Start Minnesota Clinician’s Group (psychiatrists, pediatricians and family practice physicians)

  • For more information and registration: TrainLink

    Evidence-Based Practices Training and Clinical Consultation

    The Children’s Mental Health Division provides comprehensive training and ongoing consultation on the practice elements of evidence-based treatment to mental health professionals.

    The curriculum consists of five full days of classroom training followed by bi-weekly phone consultation with national clinical experts for six to nine months. During these calls, the clinical experts consult with the clinicians as they learn to use a specially designed form called a clinical dashboard. The dashboard is used to track progress toward treatment goals and measure client outcomes over time. The dashboard provides a graphic representation of the treatment strategies that have been used during each session as well as the client’s progress toward treatment goals. This training approach allows clinicians time to use the new practices with a small number of clients while receiving assistance from clinical experts.

    Delivery of the evidence-based training has expanded to include providers of more intensive services, including residential providers. The training also provides a solid background for more specialized evidence-based training, such as trauma-informed care.

    The Division partnered with NAMI Minnesota to develop educational materials for parents about evidence-based practices. These materials include fact sheets on each problem or diagnosis and a curriculum, “What Works? What Helps? Treatment Options in Children’s Mental Health,” to train parents and family members about the use of evidence-based practices in providing more effective treatment plans for children’s mental health disorders.

    For more information, please contact Pat Nygaard at

    Mental Health Behavioral Aide (MHBA) – Parent Teaming Training

    A Mental Health Behavioral Aide is a paraprofessional working under the direction of a mental health professional or mental health practitioner receiving clinical supervision. The MHBA helps a child with an emotional disturbance or a serious emotional disturbance practice skills, as taught by the professional or practitioner, in the child’s home, school or community setting.

    In order to be employed as a Mental Health Behavioral Aide, an individual is required to complete ten modules of pre-service training that educate those who work with children with serious mental health disorders about the lives of the families raising these children and what they can do to create an effective partnership.

    This training is also available to anyone who works with children with these mental health needs.

    For more information and registration: TrainLink

    Mental Health Screening for Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Staff

    New eLearning training is available on screening for staff providing children’s mental health screening and follow-up navigation services to the children’s mental health system. This training is composed of three modules that must be completed in order:

    Exploring Minnesota Statute 245.4874: Module 1 describes the statutory expectations for children's mental health screening for the child welfare and juvenile justice populations. Descriptions of the target population, screening exemptions, re-screening and approved screening tools are discussed.

    Facilitating Screening: Administering, Scoring and Giving Results: Module 2 examines facilitating the screening process; participants will participate in the children’s mental health screening process by practicing how one offers screens, scores screens, delivers the results of a mental health screen, and then connects the youth and family to on-going mental health resources, if needed.

    Documentation and Privacy: Module 3 provides instruction on how to document the screen appropriately so it is counted for audit and grant reporting purposes; there is a link to another online training concerning HIPAA and data privacy issues.

    The entire course should take between one to three hours to complete. For more information and registration: TrainLink.

    Outcome Measures

    Child and Adolescent Service Intensity Instrument (CASII) and Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) training sessions are held at least twice a year. Mental health professionals and their clinical supervisors learn how to collect, score and interpret data for these instruments. DHS uses a train-the-trainer model so that individuals with the clinical expertise can become trainers for their respective agencies and/or catchment areas.

    Training notices are posted on the Children’s Mental Health website: For more information, please contact Pat Nygaard at:

    Early Childhood Service Intensity Instrument (ECSII) training sessions are available to licensed mental health professionals and mental health practitioners who provide diagnostic assessments and mental health treatment to children birth through five years of age. ECSII trainees are not certified to train other mental health professionals for fidelity purposes.

    For more information, please see TrainLink or contact Catherine Wright at

    An overview of the ECSII is available for early childhood professionals who are not mental health professionals. Anyone interested in organizing this 3 hour training should contact Catherine Wright at

    The CASII or ECSII, and the SDQ, are to be utilized for intake, periodic review, and discharge planning for all children receiving publically funded mental health services. The instruments are to be entered into the CMH Outcome Measures System via MN-ITS. The training manual for the outcomes system can be found at the following link: Children’s Mental Health Outcome Measures User Manual.

    Rule 79 Case Management Training

    The Department of Human Services provides children’s mental health case management training for county and Prepaid Medical Assistance Program (PMAP) case managers.

    The curriculum covers a wide range of topics including the mandated roles and responsibilities of case managers, integrated care approaches, child development, diagnostic assessment, functional assessment, evidence-based interventions, psychotropic medication, cultural competence, engagement strategies, and ethical practice.

    For more information and registration: TrainLink

    Staying Together

    This project focuses on policies pertaining to children needing residential mental health treatment or therapeutic foster care. The purpose of Staying Together is to overcome the confusion that could cause parents to relinquish custody in order to qualify for services and funding for their children. Training increases understanding and improves practice among county social services, county attorneys, providers, advocates, and parents.

    With a grant from DHS, NAMI Minnesota produced the following training materials:

  • Keeping Families Together: A Guide for Families to Understand Intensive Treatment Options for Children with Mental Illnesses
  • Keeping Families Together: Understanding the Legal and Family Perspective on Voluntary Placement (Video)

  • Trauma-Informed Care

    Minnesota is promoting the practice of trauma-informed care so that community partners can effectively and sensitively recognize and respond to children’s trauma. The Children’s Mental Health Division provides training and clinical consultation on Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT). This evidence-based therapy helps children and youth to process trauma and manage their distressing feelings and behaviors. Parents and caregivers learn skills to improve safety and communication within the family.

    The Division coordinates this effort to train mental health professionals across the state with the Ambit Network. The Child Safety and Permanency Division at the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) is partnering with the Children’s Mental Health Division to support integrated training activities for child welfare and children’s mental health workers. The purpose is to increase the ability of professionals serving families under stress to understand trauma through a developmental lens and increase their ability to identify, screen, and refer children for appropriate treatment. This will also raise awareness of child trauma within the child welfare system so workers can actively include an understanding of trauma in the way they approach their work, such as planning for children’s placements.

    The Division also works to integrate trauma training with evidence-based practices training to improve treatment for young children with various mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety and disruptive behavior disorders.

    Staff from the Children’s Mental Health Division also regularly participate in presentations at the annual conferences of the following organizations:

  • Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health (MACMH)
  • Minnesota Association of Community Mental Health Programs (MACMHP)
  • Minnesota Council of Child Caring Agencies (MCCCA)
  • NAMI Minnesota (NAMI-MN)
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