OHSU CATS Team

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

Below you'll find answers to the questions that counties, families, and providers often ask. Please browse through these FAQ's to learn more about the CATS program.

If you have a question that you can't find the answer to, please email us at CATSinfo@ohsu.edu

The CATS program serves youth up to age 18 who might otherwise meet criteria for psychiatric inpatient admission, yet are determined to be safe to return home with adequate support being in place.

The CATS program is funded by the Oregon Health Authority and is provided at no cost to families. In most counties, CATS is "insurance blind." This means that any youth and their family are able to access the service if they meet clinical eligibility and there is an opening in the program. 

The OHSU technical assistance team, together with statewide partners, is working to develop new funding sources for CATS to increase availability. 

Currently, CATS is available in 9 counties in Oregon. Efforts are being made to expand the program so that it is available in more counties, with a long-term goal to be statewide. Until then, the program is accessed through hospitals and walk-in crisis clinics in those counties listed. 

Each family has a unique combination of needs and circumstances that bring them into the CATS program. CATS teams are organized to be flexible and responsive to families and to identify how to best meet their needs. The kinds of services and support that are explored are listed below. CATS teams will provide some of these supports during the program and will help youth and families to get connected to support that may be needed when the CATS program is completed. 

Mental health care - psychiatric evaluation, medication management, therapy, substance use support, peer and group support

Physical health care - pediatric or primary care

Education support - developing and accessing educational accommodations

Health insurance -support to navigate insurance coverage issues (private, public, uninsured)

Social supports - connection to transportation assistance, food support/SNAP, TANF, and housing assistance

Cultural considerations - community and family cultures, religious or spiritual connections, cultural connectedness, language and interpretation support

Also known as family partners, Family Peer Support Specialists have experience parenting a child with complex health challenges, including mental health. Family Support Specialists can provide unique and specialized "peer" support to parents and other adult family members who are raising children with complex health conditions and having difficulty navigating the complex systems of health care and education.

Here is more information about the role and activities of a Family Support Specialist. 

CATS programs provide support in accessing an array of mental health services, including psychiatry, therapy, substance use, and peer or group opportunities. Some programs have psychiatrists on their teams, while others will help you get connected to psychiatry if that is one of your interests or needs. 

To access the CATS program, your child must have been seen in an emergency department or family crisis center in mental health crisis – generally, this means having suicidal or aggressive thoughts or behavior, or behavioral problems affecting the safety of the child, family or others. For some youth, CATS may be an appropriate alternative to long stays in an emergency department while waiting to be admitted to an inpatient psychiatric program. If the evaluating doctors and mental health specialists in the hospital feel that CATS is a good fit for the youth, a referral will be made into the program. If the CATS team agrees that the youth can be supported safely in the program, the youth and family will return home to their community with the support of the CATS interdisciplinary team.