Issued: October 1, 2022

What is happening?

North Carolina’s six Local Management Entities/Managed Care Organizations (LME/MCOs) launched the NC Child and Family Improvement Initiative on May 1, 2022, to create a statewide solution to the current pressing challenges of the service delivery system for children and youth. The Initiative’s goal is to implement a statewide model to ensure seamless access to quality care for youth and families served by the child welfare system regardless of where they live in North Carolina.

Building on the ongoing successes of the NC Child and Family Improvement Initiative, and with stakeholder feedback from a sample of residential providers, the LME/MCOs have created a standardized, statewide referral form (some providers may call it an application) for use by all Residential Providers and Therapeutic Foster Care (TFC) providers who contract with them. This standardized form will streamline the referral and evaluation process and support the timely identification of appropriate therapeutic placements for children and youth in North Carolina.

“We really appreciate the LME/MCOs working with their providers to streamline the placement process for children,” said Karen McLeod, President/CEO of Benchmarks. “Every effort to support access to care is needed during this unprecedented increase in behavioral health needs for North Carolina’s children. We are very grateful for the time and attention that the LME/MCOs are spending on this vulnerable population.”

When will the change take effect?

The standardized referral form will be available on each LME/MCO’s website beginning October 1, 2022. All Residential Providers and TFC providers who contract with LME/MCOs will be expected to use only the standardized referral form on or before December 1, 2022.

How does the change affect providers? 

The NC Child and Family Improvement Initiative worked with a statewide stakeholder group of TFC and Residential Providers to identify the most important information needed to determine whether they can provide residential or TFC services for a specific child or youth. The priority data fields were then developed into a statewide referral form that is available to all TFC and Residential Providers beginning 10/1/2022.

All six LME/MCOs [administering Tailored Plans effective 4/1/2023] will require in-network and out-of-network providers to use this standardized form as their single referral document for all children and youth on or before December 1, 2022. LME/MCOs will update their respective Provider Manuals to reflect this requirement.

How will this change affect referring parties and children and families in NC? 

Referring parties will be able to complete one standardized referral form that they can submit to multiple providers, reducing their administrative burden. Examples of potential referring parties include County Departments of Social Services, Juvenile Justice, behavioral health providers, residential providers preparing for stepdown, and care managers.

The referral document will support the standardization of shared information and efficient transitions of care for referring parties and providers. Most importantly, the document has been designed to facilitate timely and appropriate access to therapeutic placement for the children and families of North Carolina.

Where can providers access the fillable form?

The standardized referral form is available at Both fillable PDF and fillable MS Word versions are available.

Who should providers contact with questions?

If you have questions, please contact us at or by phone at 704-842-6111.

To learn more about the NC Child and Family Improvement Initiative, click here