Survey data were collected from 45 states on the extent to which transfer of custody was required for families to obtain intensive services for children with serious emotional disturbances. In 28 of the states (62 percent), at least one agency serving children reported using transfer of custody as a requisite for obtaining services. Corrections and social service agencies were most likely to require transfer of custody, followed by youth services and mental health agencies. Most agencies that required transfer of custody lacked statutes or regulations governing two of the three types of transfers used. States that required transfer of custody tended to be less populated and to have a lower per capita income than states that did not. The major factor contributing to use of transfer of custody, the authors conclude, is the absence of an adequate system of services designed specifically for children with serious emotional disturbances.