The policy agenda of the UK government has repositioned the voluntary sector as a key player in the delivery of locally responsive, 'bottom up' services to address the complex problems of social exclusion, reaching out to sectors of the community which are beyond the grasp of traditional state or market providers. This has drawn many voluntary sector organizations into new forms of partnership with statutory bodies. This article draws from a Scottish study to explore the role of voluntary sector organizations working in schools to support the mental well-being of children and young people. A framework to interrogate the data from case studies is provided by the Scottish Executive, who rehearse four main advantages of such partnerships between state and the voluntary sector. The article concludes that whilst voluntary sector organizations can and do deliver support to children and young people in innovative ways on the margins of school life, the power differential within the school structure makes their position too vulnerable to bring about quick or substantial change.