Community Action Team (C.A.T.)


The Community Action Team (C.A.T.) is a multi-disciplinary team which seeks to provide intensive, comprehensive community based services to youth with a history of mental illness, multiple treatment failures, who are at risk of out of home placement or at risk to return to out of home placement.  The team consists of therapist, mentors, case managers, a nurse, an ARNP, a team leader and an administrative assistant. The team strives to provide family-centered, culturally competent, individualized services that focus on the strengths of the clients and families we serve.  C.A.T seeks to support the individualized goals of the child and family by enabling them to sustain themselves within their family system and community. The family is a crucial piece of the puzzle to obtaining success in those efforts and as a result is expected to remain as engaged participants in the therapeutic process. C.A.T provides psychiatric care and medical treatment through the medical staff and the children and families are linked to community resources that may benefit them. The families are assisted in gaining access to other community resources that may provide a sustainable support network.

Mental disorders are one of the most prevalent illnesses affecting youth today. Much of the research today supports the notion that mental illness contributes greatly to both mental and physical long-term health issues and as a result has a great impact on societal costs. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), half of all lifetime cases of mental health disorders had begun by age 14 and three quarters have begun by age 24. [1]It is crucial that early identification and intervention are a part of mental health treatment systems of care in efforts to decrease both short- and long-term morbidity while improving outcomes.


C.A.T. is intended to be a safe and effective alternative to out-of-home placement for children with serious behavioral health challenges. Upon successful completion, the family should have the skills and natural support systems needed to maintain improvements made during services. The goals are to:

-Improve family and youth functions
-Decrease psychiatric hospitalizations
-Decrease substance use and abuse
-Improve school related outcomes such as attendance, grades, and graduation rates
-Transition into age appropriate services


Youth (11-21) who have a mental health and/or co-occurring substance use disorder diagnoses and other characteristics suh as:

-Being at risk of out-of-home placement as demonstrated by repeated difficulties in lower levels of care
-Having 2 or more psychiatric hospitalizations
-Involvement with Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ)
-Multiple episodes involving law enforcement
-Poor academic performance and/or suspensions
Youth younger than 11 years old may receive services if they meet 2 or more of the criteria above.
COPE Center services are partially funded by Big Bend Community Based Care, Access Behavioral Health, Florida Department of Children and Families, Florida Department of Health, Families First Network, Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, and Walton County Board of County Commissioners.



850-892-HELP (4357) or text your Zip Code to 898211

Walton and Okaloosa County Information & Referral Services Dial 2-1-1