Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Connecticut Department of Children and Families: Emergency Mobile Psychiatric Services Crisis Intervention Service

Emergency Mobile Psychiatric Services Crisis Intervention Service (EMPS) is for children and youth (and their families) exhibiting a crisis as result of substance use and any behavioral problem as defined by the family. EMPS is available to all children and youth up to age 18. The service is provided by a network of 15 providers and is supported by a single statewide Call Center, web-based data collection and entry, and a Performance Improvement Center that oversees data analysis, reporting, quality improvement, training, and standardized practice development.

EMPS is designed to prevent youth and their families in an acute crisis from:

  • Failing to access appropriate care in a timely manner
  • Exhibiting escalation of substance abuse and behavioral health problems
  • Unnecessarily or inappropriately using emergency departments
  • Entering restrictive forms of care including inpatient hospitalization and incarceration

A unique aspect of EMPS service delivery is mobile responsiveness. EMPS teams respond immediately to the location of the crisis, most commonly in homes, schools, emergency departments, and other community locations. As a result, they are in a unique position to offer immediate and ongoing care, and to prevent youth with substance abuse and behavioral health needs from entering more restrictive forms of care including emergency departments, inpatient hospitalization, and arrest and incarceration. EMPS is able to work with the family for up to 45 days following the initial crisis in order to link the family to longer-term and more appropriate services.

With funding from SAMHSA’s Service to Science Subcontract to Build Evaluation Capacity of Evidence-based Interventions, EMPS will increase organizational evaluation capacity and support activities in three areas:

  1. Develop and implement a measure to assess fidelity to a newly developed clinical follow-up care model using qualitative and quantitative methods and analyze this data to determine the relationship of condition acuity to qualitative and quantitative indicators of clinical service delivery.
  2. Develop and pilot measures to assess risk and protective factors related to substance abuse and behavior problems as well as outcomes related to diverting from emergency departments, inpatient hospitalization, and incarceration.
  3. Publish findings in a peer-reviewed journal—to advance the evidence base for EMPS and support dissemination, adoption, and replication of the model.



Jeffrey J. Vanderploeg, Ph.D.
Associate Director
Connecticut Center for Effective Practice
Child Health and Development Institute