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Child & Family Services

Children Care

Meridian’s Family Center offers evaluation and evidence based treatments for childhood depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia, PTSD, and trauma-related behavioral problems in our clinic, at home or at school.

The Center for Building Healthy Families encompasses therapeutic services delivered to children and their families. The Center provides multi-disciplinary substance abuse and mental health assessments as well as treatments to effectively provide behavioral healthcare.

Services for Children

Services delivered to the consumers take a strength-based, person-centered approach. We apply and utilize the following evidence based practices appropriate for diagnosis and functioning level of the consumers:

  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Cognitive Behavioral-Based
  • Solution Focused Care
  • Trauma Focused Care (includes Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT)
  • Psycho-Educational
  • Skill Building Strategies
  • Parent – Child Psychotherapy

We offer case management services for clients linking and coordinating services with other community-based agencies including court/legal services, medical care, housing, transportation and job placement. When further assistance is needed in these areas a referral for target case management is made to assist client in accessing these services.

Emergency Screening

Emergency Screening staff provide evaluations for children on a 24/7 basis. Staff provides evaluations to determine the appropriateness of involuntary admission for mental illness under the Florida Baker Act. Screeners are also available to advise family members on involuntary evaluation for substance use disorders under the Marchman Act.

Crisis Stabilization Unit

Meridian operates our Children’s CSU in Lake City, providing short-term stabilization for acute and serious mental health problems. Each of our CSUs is a Baker Act Receiving Facility, accepting any patient that meets Baker Act criteria.

Outpatient Counseling

Meridian’s Children’s Outpatient Program provides services to children, adolescents, and families. Outpatient therapy is provided to clients with a wide range of issues including behavioral problems, mood disorders such as depression or anxiety, adjustment issues, family concerns and substance abuse.

On the initial visit, the therapist conducts a comprehensive assessment including individual child and family interviews, examining the child’s current needs, challenges, strengths, and functioning level, as well as the child’s developmental, educational, family, medical, and psychiatric history.

The child will then work with a counselor to help relieve troubling symptoms, enhance emotional development, and improve functioning at home, school and in the community.

This program helps children:

  • Identify and manage painful emotions
  • Learn coping skills to deal with stressful situations
  • Control troublesome behavior
  • Improve communication skills
  • Form and maintain positive relationships
  • Make use of innate talents and abilities

School-Based Counseling

School-based counseling is available in many schools throughout the region. Meridian provides a therapist on site to work with students who have behavior problems and to assist teachers address behavioral issues. Children needing services can be seen without parental consent for all substance use disorder treatment and for a mental health emergency. However, we strongly encourage parents’ involvement as an essential part of improving the well being and behavior of children.

Children’s Summer Program

Our children’s summer program improves psychosocial functioning and enhance pro-social behavior. The eight-week program is held mid-June through early-August each year on Meridian’s main campus in Gainesville and is offered at no cost to families.

Children’s Summer Program features group and individual treatment designed to teach children skills for success, such as how to understand and manage their emotions, interact appropriately with others and problem-solve. The program also incorporates games, group activities and field trips to practice these skills under the guidance of a master-level therapist.

These approaches are provided in the home, community and/or at Meridian. The Family Services Department offers referrals to services such as Intensive Outpatient (Partial Hospitalization), Residential Substance Abuse, Psychosocial Rehabilitation, Psychiatric Services and aftercare follow-up services.

Children’s Community Action Team

The Community Action (CAT) Team is a self-contained, integrated, multi-disciplinary team providing comprehensive, intensive, community-based treatment to families with children and youth at risk of out-of home placement due to mental health disorders. Medical staff provides psychiatric care, basic health status checks and works with the family to maintain medical records as well as linkages to community health care practitioners.


Children 11-21 years of age with:

  • Mental health diagnosis or co-occurring substance use disorder diagnosis
  • A risk for out-of-home placement (traditional services have been proven inadequate)
  • Two or more hospitalizations or repeated failures
  • Involvement with DJJ or multiple episodes involving law enforcement
  • Poor academic performances and/or suspensions

Children 11 and younger may be accepted into the program if they meet two of more of the criteria listed.

Recovery Center

Located in Lake City, the Recovery Center is an 18-bed substance abuse residential treatment facility for adolescents – ages 13 to 17. This program is six months in duration, and admission is based on ASAM Residential Level II criteria. The program offers counseling and supportive services, education, medical service, and a structured environment that stresses developing healthy coping and problem-solving skills to deal with family or personal life problems designed to increase post-discharge resiliency.

Treatment follows the 12 Step Model, Motivation Enhancement and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. School attendance is mandatory through the Columbia County School System, with a GED option with parent approval and “credit recovery” assistance for those who have fallen severely behind. The Recovery Center also houses a Respite Center providing short term support for parents and caregivers.

Families Programs and Case Management

Meridian also offers trauma-informed care through our Families in Transition and our Family Intervention programs to provide support and treatment for families involved in the child protection system. Children’s Case Management is available to children with serious mental illnesses whose needs include coordination of both health and social services.

Contact Us

If your child is experiencing a medical or life-threatening emergency, call 911.

If your child is feeling suicidal, depressed, anxious or has other urgent mental health concerns, call now at:

Crisis Line
24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year
(352) 374-5600, option 1

For information and to schedule appointments, call:

Access Center
7:30 a.m. – 6 p.m., Monday through Friday

New Client: (352) 374-5600, option 2
Returning Clients: (352) 374-5600, option 3

Toll Free: (800) 330-5615
TTY: (800) 955-8771
TTD: (800) 955-8770

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Disclaimer: The content included on Meridian Behavioral Healthcare, Inc. social media pages and website is not intended to provide medical or mental health advice and should not be taken or used as medical or mental health advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any issues or questions you may have regarding any medical or mental health condition or treatment.

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