Washington’s free referral service connecting kids with mental health therapists has expanded this year to meet rising demand. With new state funding, Washington’s Mental Health Referral Service for Children and Teens this summer added two referral specialists and an intake coordinator.

Wait times: Currently, the service is able to schedule an intake call for families with Medicaid within a few days to a week of the initial request. Privately insured families typically will have an intake appointment within two weeks. Times are subject to change.

It takes an additional 7 to 10 days to put together a list of available therapists for Medicaid-insured families. For privately insured families, it’s typically three to four weeks.

Supporting BIPOC patients: The referral service has made it a priority to add BIPOC providers to its database. They do their best to connect families with a BIPOC therapist when requested, although they cannot guarantee it.

Growth in demand for services 

In the period January through June 2022:

  • The referral service experienced a 57% increase in family requests compared to the same period last year, and a 41% increase in requests compared to the previous 6 months (July – December 2021).
  • On average, 454 families per month requested help from the referral service. March was the highest month with 657 requests.


  • Number of families served: 2,054 families were served in the last six months (up from 1,476 families in the last 6 months of 2021, a 40% increase).
  • Family satisfaction: Based on a five-point rating scale with 1 being unfavorable and 5 being positive, families rated the Mental Health Referral Service 4.3 for saying they would recommend it, a 3.9 for meeting their needs, and a 4.1 for overall satisfaction.

Washington’s Mental Health Referral Service for Children and Teens is funded by Washington state and operated by Seattle Children’s.