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The Developmental and Behavioral Health team at Children’s Mercy helps children and teens with developmental, psychiatric, or psychological needs. 

We provide mental, emotional, and behavioral health services that lead to healthier children and stronger families. 

What we do

  • Assess for:
    • ADHD
    • Anxiety and Depression
    • Autism 
    • Eating Disorders
      • We have outpatient care for children with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or other eating disorders.
    • Learning problems other than dyslexia
    • Tourette Syndrome
      • We have the only care center designed for children with Tourette Syndrome in the United States. 
  • Psychological testing for concerns with:
    • Attention 
    • Thinking, reasoning, and remembering
    • Emotions and behaviors 
    • Social interactions 
  • Guidance for families with children who have developmental delays or disabilities
  • Manage psychiatric medications for children with autism or developmental disabilities.
  • Therapy for children with chronic illnesses

The care we give in the Developmental and Behavioral Health program is made possible by the donations of the Robert and Karissa Alumbaugh Family.

I have a concern, where do I start?

If you feel your child may have a developmental or behavioral health concern, it can be difficult to know what steps to take next. Review the list of services offered below to get started.

Assessment services

The goal of these clinics is to evaluate your child’s development, skills and behaviors. The clinical team will share information with you about any diagnoses they make, and they will provide you with resources for care and treatment.

The Autism Clinic team provides developmental evaluations for children ages 1 to 17 who may have an autism spectrum disorder or other neurodevelopmental differences.

Developmental pediatricians provide a medical assessment and developmental evaluation of children under 6 years old with suspected developmental delays in more than one area. Families come for periodic follow-up visits to monitor their child’s development.

Outpatient clinical psychology services focus on evaluation and treatment of complex mental and behavioral health concerns. In most cases, we see children who have mental health needs that require additional support beyond the scope of their primary care provider or school district.

Medication management clinics

Finding the right combination of medications and dosages can be complicated. Our experts work together with you, your child and your child’s health care providers to find what works for your child.

Developmental pediatricians provide medical evaluation and specialty care for children with developmental disorders such as autism and intellectual disability. Children’s Mercy providers partner with your child’s primary care provider to manage medication and other treatments for symptoms such as impulsivity, inattention, anxiety and agitation.

The psychiatry clinic provides medication management for mental health conditions in youth who also have medical or developmental disorders. We primarily work with children who are actively receiving treatment in other medical clinics at Children’s Mercy.

Specialty centers and clinics

Children’s Mercy is home to nationally recognized care centers for children and teens with Eating Disorders and Tourette Syndrome. In addition, Children’s Mercy has a clinic to treat depression and anxiety, the hospital’s first program dedicated to treating these conditions.

The Eating Disorders Center at Children's Mercy provides specialized outpatient services to children, adolescents, and young adults with all types of eating disorders. We use a family-based approach tailored to each individual to evaluate and treat their eating disorder.

Children with Tourette syndrome receive the highest level of care in the Midwest at the Children’s Mercy Tourette Syndrome Center of Excellence — the nation’s only center of excellence devoted exclusively to kids.

Parent coaching programs

Parenting a child with developmental differences can be challenging. We provide training and coaching programs for parents of children with ADHD or autism.

Children’s Mercy offers training for parents of children ages 3.5-5 years of age and students 6-12 years of age with known or suspected ADHD.

We offer a group and individual coaching program for parents and caregivers of children with autism and other developmental disorders to decrease problem behaviors and teach skills.

Comprehensive care for children with medical and mental health concerns

Our pediatric psychology team helps patients throughout Children’s Mercy’s hospitals and clinics who are learning to manage their health and wellbeing.

Pediatric Psychologists work with medical teams throughout the hospital to provide psychological care to patients with medical conditions and concerns.

Additional Child and Family Mental Health Services

The Department of Social Work’s Child and Family Therapy Team supports families through a variety of evidence based therapeutic treatment modalities. These services are designed to support families, improve parent-child relationships, and teach skills to cope with stress and trauma.

The Child and Family Therapy Team is comprised of licensed mental health professionals who are trained in evidence-based treatment modalities. These treatments are successful in supporting children and families who have experienced a variety of stressors and traumatic events. The Child and Family Therapy Team is also embedded in various outpatient clinics throughout Children’s Mercy.

Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT)

TF-CBT is a short-term (approximately 12-20 sessions) treatment addressing the unique needs of children ages 5-17 with post-traumatic stress symptoms, depression, behavior problems and other difficulties related to traumatic life experiences. TF-CBT can be beneficial for children who have experienced a single traumatic event or multiple traumatic events. The goal of TF-CBT is to reduce the impact of trauma and teach life-long coping skills. Session time is spent meeting individually with children, their caregiver, as well as parent-child sessions.

General Family Therapy

Family Therapy is a treatment for parents and caregivers who are experiencing family stress due to their child’s chronic medical, behavioral and/or mental health conditions. This can include feelings of exhaustion and frustration, communication struggles, parenting challenges and conflict between parents. This family stress can exacerbate the child’s medical, behavioral and/or mental health conditions, creating an unhealthy cycle for the family. Typically, Family Therapy is provided to caregivers and patient’s participation is limited.

Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)

PCIT is a short-term (approximately 16-20 sessions) treatment designed for children ages 2-7 who are exhibiting some of these behavior problems: aggression, non-compliance, defying adults, attention and focus related problems, and excessive temper tantrums. PCIT teaches caregivers specific behavior management techniques as they play with their child, with the focus on improving the caregiver relationship while teaching caregivers effective child management skills. PCIT is fun for both the caregiver and the child. PCIT services are provided to families in both Spanish and English.

Graphic with the words "Your Family" and "Children's Mercy" connected by a dotted line.

Making an Appointment

There are several steps between your initial phone call and first appointment in a Developmental & Behavioral Health clinic at Children's Mercy. Learn more about what to expect.

Find the right support for your child

At Children’s Mercy, we strive to care for as many children and families as possible. Sometimes, that care happens in our hospitals and clinics. Other times, we connect you with community providers to help your child get the services they need as quickly as possible.

Before you call us for an appointment, please see the information below about some common conditions that we typically do not see at Children’s Mercy unless your child’s condition is complex or requires additional specialized care.

Adolescents 12 to 17 year olds: The Depression and Anxiety in Youth (DAY) Clinic is an outpatient program providing medium-term, evidenced-based and collaborative treatment for adolescents. Please visit the clinic’s page for more information. 

Children under 12: Children’s Mercy does not currently provide treatment of anxiety or depression in younger children unless it is related to a chronic medical condition or developmental disorder. Visit our Mental Health Resources page or call your insurance carrier for help with finding a therapist in your community.

If you have concerns about attention problems or possible ADHD, start by talking  with your child’s primary care provider. In many cases, your doctor will be able to make the diagnosis and manage your child’s treatment.

Health care providers: see our ADHD Diagnosis and Treatment Process Map for additional information on caring for children with ADHD.

The Developmental and Behavioral Health department does not provide therapy and counseling for common behavior problems in childhood. However, family therapy and parent training opportunities are available through our Social Work department.

Community Mental Health Centers provide case management and wraparound services for children with serious mental health conditions. Wraparound services put your child at the center of a team of support people who work together to help them navigate all aspects of their life.

Children’s Mercy does not provide these services directly, but you can find information on how to connect with your community mental health center on our Mental Health Resources page.

We offer a variety a of educational videos featuring Children's Mercy experts in pediatric developmental and behavioral health.

Children’s Mercy does not perform psychology evaluations for use in legal proceedings (sometimes called Forensic Evaluations).

All school districts in Missouri, and some in Kansas, can provide evaluations when there are concerns about academic progress or school performance. Please talk with your school district prior to seeking a learning disability evaluation at Children’s Mercy. Your child’s principal or school counselor can help you start this process.

Mental Health Patient Family Advisory Council

The Mental Health Patient Family Advisory Council (PFAC) supports the highest standard of excellence in care at Children's Mercy through meaningful collaboration between families and hospital staff.

The inspiration behind our program

The transformative care in the Developmental and Behavioral Health program is made possible thanks to the generosity of the Robert and Karissa Alumbaugh Family.