Report: mental health services lacking for poor youth in Washington
According to a study released by a Washington D.C. advocacy group, at least 5,000 of the District’s poorest children are not receiving adequate mental health treatment.
The study, released by the Children’s Law Center, attempts to assess how well the District is caring for the city’s 96,000 children insured by Medicaid.
Even when parents seek out treatment for the children, the report stated, families must navigate a complex and inadequate social services system, often resulting in delayed and low-quality treatment. A lack of providers has led to lengthy waits for families who need immediate care. The region’s best providers have settled elsewhere in the area, where they can make more money, according to the second annual report by the Children’s Law Center, which attempts to assess how well the District is caring for the city’s 96,000 children insured by Medicaid.
The study noted that nationally, 12.6 percent of such children are thought to have mental health issues, according to a widely accepted estimate from the Urban Institute.In the District, however, only 6.8 percent of children — some 7,000 — were treated for mental health conditions.
Judith Sandalow, the law center’s executive director says 5,000 is a conservative estimate of children in need of mental health services but aren’t receiving them. “Between the number of children living in poverty and the level of trauma that comes with the violence some of these children witness, the number [of children in need] is probably much higher,” Sandalow told CNN.
Studies conducted on the national level reveal that children who aren’t treated for mental health issues are more likely to drop out of school, get involved in crime and commit suicide.
City officials said the department is actively trying to connect children and families with mental health services. The department received $2.7 billion last year, with the current budget proposals allocating an increase of 6 percent to address the need.
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