Community Services

This section provides broad overviews of Mental Health, Law Enforcement, Medical Care, Youth Court, Child & Family Services, Schools, Developmental Disabilities, Community Alternatives to Home, and Other Resources. 

Mental Health

The mental health system has many different services, and each has their own criteria and providers. The mental health system is different from other systems in that families have more choices of providers. This is both a benefit and a challenge. The benefit is having options to choose from, and the challenge is knowing how to navigate those options and select the best one. Here we provide some tips for selecting a provider, and an overview of the available types of mental health services. The services are listed in order of intensity, with the exception of crisis services and wilderness therapy listed at the end.

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Law Enforcement

Law enforcement responds to youth in crisis in a variety of ways. This may include providing support and stabilization, giving a verbal warning, transporting youth to the Emergency Room, writing a ticket, or placing a youth in detention. Law enforcement may also make a report to Child and Family Services if they suspect child abuse and neglect. Law enforcement responses will vary based on the discretion of the officer, and the volume and severity of other calls and incidents at the time.  Here we describe what each of these responses may look like.

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Medical Care

The medical system is highly complex.  Describing the medical system as a whole is beyond the scope of this project, but here we describe the medical system as it pertains to youth with mental health concerns.

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Youth Court

Youth become involved in the Youth Court system by receiving a citation/ticket by law enforcement. Depending on the type of citation, severity of offense, and the individual situation, Youth Court can proceed in a variety of ways. Here we describe the different levels of Youth Court involvement.

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Child and Family Services

Child and Family Services Division (CFSD) provides mandated protective services to children experiencing abuse, neglect, or abandonment. This includes receiving and investigating reports of child abuse and neglect, helping families to stay together or reunite, and finding placements in foster or adoptive homes. Here we describe the different functions and levels of intervention within Child and Family Services Division.

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The public school system varies based on district, though there are many common features you can expect. Each school has a variety of resources for the needs of youth and their families. Some resources are available to all students and families, and other resources are available to youth with higher or more specialized needs. 

Most Ravalli County schools participate in the Montana Behavior Initiative (MBI) which is a proactive approach to creating behavioral supports and a supportive social culture. Within the MBI approach is the Response to Intervention model. This consists of 3 tiers or levels of support for students with diverse needs.  Ravalli Head Start and Early Head Start are free educational programs for children age 0-5.

We include contact information for all Ravalli schools. Please scroll below to see descriptions of school supports.

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Developmental Disabilities

The developmental disabilities system offers extensive services through several different programs. Each program has its own requirements for who is eligible and how to enroll. The challenge with this system is the long wait lists to receive services, even when a youth has been found eligible. For this reason, it is important to understand how the system works and get youth set up as early as possible. Here we describe the different programs available for youth in the developmental disabilities system.

For many Ravalli County residents, Missoula resources may be more accessible. Please visit

For a more complete guide, visit Guide to Success: Navigating Montana's Developmental Disabilities Program.

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Faith Communities

Faith Communities, while not formal services, can provide a variety of supports to meet emotional, spiritual, social and practical needs. Especially in rural communities, faith communities often fill the role of formal services available in more populated areas.

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Community Alternatives to Home

There are times when an alternative to living at home may be needed to stabilize crisis in a family. There are short term and long term options for alternative placements. Here we describe what each of those options looks like.

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Other Resources

Other Resources refers to the resources in Ravalli County not otherwise included in the discussion of youth in crisis. This includes a wide range of categories such as food, clothing, housing, government support, employment, education, disabilities, childcare, legal, health and wellness, social clubs, support groups, and advocacy. Rather than duplicate other resource guides, here we provide links to several resource guides already available. If you know of resource guides that provide information we are missing, please let us know!

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