State officials say an Indiana program launched less than two years ago is already working to ensure children from families who can’t afford needed mental health services don’t slip through the cracks. The Children’s Mental Health Initiative was created to help children who aren’t eligible for Medicaid and whose private insurance doesn’t cover the services they need. Lisa Rich with the Department of Children and Family Services says they’ve managed to help many families who didn’t have anywhere to turn before.
“Their children have significant mental health issues,” said Rich. “They have at least two diagnoses; they are struggling with behaviors – really struggling to make sure these families are safe in their homes and in their communities.”
Rich says the department has pledged up to 25-million dollars a year to provide treatment services for those who cannot afford it. The initiative began as a pilot program in 2012 and has since expanded to 78 counties. Children in need of mental health services are referred to community mental health centers that evaluate each case and recommend a treatment plan. While residential treatment is an option, Rich says many children are able remain in their homes and receive services.
“We found very early on that very few of those kids were ending up in high-end placements, and the families really feel more stable and they’re better able to manage those kids’ behaviors in the home.
Rich says the Department of Child and Family Services, Division of Mental Health and Addictions, and the Bureau of Developmental Disability Services have collaborated to make the initiative a success.
“It’s really the three of us together, looking to ensure that we’re building a service array that ensures that kids aren’t falling through the cracks, which was what was really happening before this program started.”
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, four million children in the U-S suffer from serious mental disorders.