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Mental Health Services for My Child

Waiting for Services

(#3 of 3 in Series)



In many parts of Wisconsin, there are not enough mental health providers to serve every child who could benefit from their services. Families may experience a delay before their child can be evaluated or seen for therapy by a mental health or behavioral health provider. Delays in accessing mental health services can add to parent concerns or worries, but there are some things families can do to be proactive.

What if my child is in crisis?

There may be times when you just can’t wait. If your child is in crisis, there are programs to help your child and family. Call 988, the National Crisis and Suicide Hotline, for immediate support. If a child is in danger of injuring themselves or others, call 911. Request that a Crisis Intervention Trained (CIT) police officer respond to your call.

Who Else Can Help?

  • Your child’s primary care provider or their after-hours line. Let them know that your child needs immediate help.
  • Your county crisis line and a response team can be found by going to dhs.wisconsin.gov/crisis/respond.htm.

What Can Families Do While Waiting for Services?

 While waiting for formal services can be frustrating, parents and family members can be actively involved in finding community programs and informal services. Here are some ideas for families as they wait:

  • Call Again If you are waiting for an appointment, ask if you can be put on a cancellation list. You should also call back regularly to see where your child is on the waitlist. If you are waiting for private therapy, ask about other options like group therapy or support groups.
  • Travel Consider looking for providers and services in neighboring communities or larger cities in your area. While traveling to see your child’s mental health provider is not ideal, it may be the best way to find a mental health provider who can see your child in a timely way. Also, utilizing a transportation benefit on your Forward card may be possible to either have a ride provided or mileage reimbursement. Learn more about transportation options on Family Voices Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) transportation fact sheet.


TIP For Families

You are your child’s best advocate! Don’t hesitate to speak up and be an assertive advocate for your child.


  • School-Based Services Talk to your child’s school social worker or school counselor about your child’s needs. Your child’s school may be able to offer school-based, mental health services or other district-level support staff who can work with your child and their teacher during the school day. Once you establish a relationship with a community mental health provider, make sure school staff and mental health providers can communicate and share ideas and treatment options.
  • Connect with Other Families Parents can share their experiences and help you learn about resources, providers, and programs that were helpful to their children. Contact NAMI Wisconsin to know about online or local support groups or family connections. Your child’s school or faith community may also be an excellent way to connect with other families.

Connect with Mental Health Organizations. These organizations can assist and connect you with resources, local groups and events. Examples include:

  • NAMI Wisconsin: namiwisconsin.org or 800.236.2988. NAMI is a family-based, statewide organization that offers education, advocacy, and support for individuals and families affected by mental illness. There are also local NAMI chapters that host events and activities. Online and in-person support groups are also available for both children and families. For details visit namiwisconsin.org/education-programs.
  • Mental Health America of WI: mhawisconsin.org or 866.948.6483. MHA is a community-based network offering advocacy, education, and resources.

Connect with Family Supporting Organizations. These organizations are staffed by parents and family members who have children with special needs. They can help you find learning sessions, conferences and resources that keep families informed and educated about programs and services for children with disabilities.

  • Wisconsin Family Ties: wifamilyties.org or 608.267.6800 has information and referral specialists as well as parent-peer specialists who can meet with a family and provide one-on-one support.
  • Parent to Parent of WI (P2P): p2pwi.org or 1.888.266.0028 connects parents 1-on-1 with children with similar conditions or who live in the same area.
  • WI FACETS: wifacets.org or 877.374.0511 provides individual assistance, workshops, and resources for families related to their child’s education.
  • Family Voices of Wisconsin: familyvoiceswi.org or 608.512.0217 (ext. 800) offers learning sessions, family leadership opportunities and advocacy so families can effectively navigate health care and community support and services.

Developed by Family Voices of Wisconsin in partnership with the Office of Children’s Mental Health, children.wi.gov.

Family Voices of Wisconsin, 2023©  |  familyvoiceswi.org
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