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SAMHSA’s Award-Winning Newsletter
November/December 2008, Volume 16, Number 6 

How Long Away? Out-of-Home Services for Youth

A young person with emotional or behavioral problems sometimes needs to be treated outside of the home. But for how long? And where? How many young people receive these services?

According to SAMHSA’s National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), combined data from 2002 to 2006 indicate that an estimated 2.6 percent of youth age 12 to 17 (about 657,000 people) reported receiving out-of-home services for emotional or behavioral problems in the past 12 months.

photo of a young person holding a black suitcase

Out-of-Home Services for Emotional or Behavioral Problems among Youths Aged 12 To 17: 2002 to 2006 is the title of this short report.

Service Settings

A recent report from SAMHSA examines how long youth participated in out-of-home services -- for behavior or emotional problems not caused by alcohol or drugs.

The report includes responses from youth who experienced three types of out-of-home services -- inpatient, residential, or therapeutic foster care. Descriptions of each follow.

  • Residential treatment center. Provides facility-based care 24 hours a day, 7 days per week, for children and adolescents with serious emotional disturbance, and offers mental health services in a controlled environment.
  • Foster care or therapeutic foster care. Matches a trained foster family with a young person with serious emotional or behavioral needs who cannot be cared for in his or her home. TFC families are closely supervised and supported.
  • Inpatient care. Admits youth to a community or psychiatric hospital.

Of the youth who reported receiving any out-of-home mental health services, 74.6 percent received services in a hospital, 36.8 percent received services in an residential treatment center, and 23.3 percent received services in a foster or therapeutic foster care home.

Respondents could report receiving services in multiple settings.

Length of Stay

Of the 2.6 percent of youth age 12 to 17 who received out-of-home services in the past year, about half reported staying only for 1 or 2 nights. Overall, 33.3 percent of them stayed for only 1 night, and another 16.5 percent stayed for 2 nights.

The number of nights spent in out-of-home settings in the past year varied by setting.

For example, 48.1 percent of youth age 12 to 17 who reported receiving hospital care stayed for only 1 night compared with 40.4 percent of those who reported staying in a foster or therapeutic foster care home and 36.2 percent of those who reported staying in an residential treatment center.

To read the entire report, visit SAMHSA’s Office of Applied Studies Web site at


Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator - Find private and public facilities that are licensed, certified, and approved by the substance abuse agency in your state. Visit

  Women, Addiction, & Recovery  
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Conference Coverage & Related Stories

  Returning Veterans  
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Women in the Military: Overcoming Challenges

From mental health issues to sexual harassment—what’s being done to help.

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Veterans & Major Depressive Episode: New Data

Last year, more than 300,000 veterans experienced MDEs.

  Suicide Prevention  
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New Media Increase Options

Virtual suicide prevention efforts are helping.

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Lifeline Answers One Millionth Call

Milestone for SAMHSA’s National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

  Training Manuals  
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This Treatment Improvement Protocol training manual offers basics on successful detox.

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Medication-Assisted Treatment

This Treatment Improvement Protocol training manual discusses treatment for opioid addiction.

  Data on Youth  
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Inhalant Use & Depression

Some adolescents are three times as likely to start using inhalants—find out why.

Mental Health Settings: New Data

Do young people get mental health services at school more often than at specialty treatment centers?

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Out-of-Home Treatment

Effective treatment options for young people.

  Also in This Issue  
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2008 Science & Service Award Winners

For best practices, 29 organizations honored.

Grant Updates

Awards announced.

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Advisory Councils

Five new members for SAMHSA’s Advisory Councils.

Treatment Line Gets National Attention

Oprah promotes SAMHSA’s substance abuse treatment line as a resource.

The Voice Awards logo

Voice Award Nominations

You have until March 2009 to cast your vote.

Primary Care Settings

Mental health may improve with treatment location.

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Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration – 1 Choke Cherry Road - Rockville, MD 20857
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