Tuesday, November 27, 2012

CLC on children's mental health

The Children's Law Center has called on the District to improve the public mental health system for children, youth, and families in their report Improving the Children's Mental Health System in the District of Columbia (full report and executive summary here).   The report demonstrates the need and offers actions to address the current limitations and gaps.

This is some of what CLC has to say on the subject:

Nationally, 12.4% of children aged 6 to 17 who receive Medicaid have mental health conditions. Yet the District’s public mental health system is only serving—by the Department of Mental Health’s most recent count—5.48% of children in the District. This count includes all children receiving at least one mental health service, without taking into account whether children are receiving the correct treatment or all the services they need to truly improve their health and quality of life. Given that such a large percentage of the District’s children receive Medicaid—61%—the fact that there is such a large gap between the children who need services and those receiving them is particularly worrisome.

Children on Medicaid are legally entitled to a comprehensive range of support including emergency services, inpatient hospital care, outpatient physician visits, prescription medications and rehabilitation services. In addition to all of the services individually listed in the District’s Medicaid State Plan, children have a right to any services that are medically necessary based on the Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) provision of federal Medicaid law (which is also referenced in DC’s Medicaid State Plan). However, this legal entitlement can only be fully realized by the District’s children when there is a complete array of services available. To be effective, these services must be high quality and well-coordinated. Providers must be willing to work in the District, and it must be easy for them to accept all forms of DC Medicaid. Recognizing that children live in families and communities, our treatment models must move beyond a child-only focus to more inclusive approaches that involve parents and other caregivers.


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