• Dec 2003/Jan 2004
  • Vol. 4, No. 10

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Strategies for Funding Comprehensive Mental Health Services for Children

A recent report by the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law offers practitioners, attorneys, and advocates suggestions for using Medicaid and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to obtain services and supports for children with emotional and behavioral disorders. Teaming Up explains the benefits and limitations of each program and provides real-life examples of attempts (both successful and unsuccessful) by families and advocates to use these programs to get children the services they need.

IDEA entitles children with disabilities to a free appropriate public education, emphasizing special education and related services designed to meet children's unique needs. The Medicaid program (Title XIX of the Social Security Act) provides public health insurance to indigent families and, at each State's option, to "medically needy" individuals who meet less stringent income criteria.

Some of the topics covered in the report include:

  • Schools as an ideal venue to identify emotional or behavioral disorders and intervene with mental health services.
  • Boundaries of IDEA and how to extend them, both systemically and individually.
  • How to decide what type of evaluator is the best choice to assess a child's needs.

Teaming Up is available on the Bazelon Center's website at www.bazelon.org/teamingup or by calling (202) 467-5730.

Related Item

A report by the General Accounting Office estimates in fiscal year 2001 parents placed more than 12,700 children in child welfare or juvenile justice systems so they could receive mental health services. Agencies say reducing costs, improving access, and expanding the range of mental health services for teens could help reduce the need for some child welfare or juvenile justice placements. Several Factors Influence the Placement of Children Solely to Obtain Mental Health Services (report number GAO-03-865T) can be found on the GAO website at http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d03865t.pdf.

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