We report the views of young people and their families who used an innovative, intensive home-based child and adolescent mental health service. We interviewed a sample of young people and their parents, who had used the service using a semi-structured interview designed to encourage reflection on the intensive home-based service. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and framework analysis undertaken. Key themes are discussed in the context of current strategic developments of children's services. We concluded that it is important for families to know what services are available, and feel that they have choice in treatment plans. Both positive and negative impacts on family life in caring for a young person with mental illness at home emerged as key themes. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.