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Home > Advocacy > CWLA Testimony and Comments > Substance Abuse


CWLA Letter to Senator Domenici on The Mental Health Parity Act of 2007

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February 13, 2007

The Honorable Pete V. Domenici
United States Senate
328 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Domenici:

On behalf of the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA), I would like to commend you for introducing The Mental Health Parity Act of 2007 in the Senate.

CWLA, an organization comprised of nearly 900 public and private child-serving member agencies who work directly with abused, neglected, and otherwise troubled children, youth, and their families in every state in the country, strongly supports passage of this legislation. Each year, inequitable limits on mental and behavioral health care in private health care plans cause millions of Americans to go without necessary care. Lack of affordable access to mental health care has a major impact on the nation's child welfare system, as low-income families are heavily represented in the child welfare population and recent research has shown that over a quarter of low-income children live with parents reporting symptoms of poor mental health. At least fifty percent of children and youth in the child welfare system are estimated to have mental health problems. In addition, the Government Accountability Office in 2003 documented how the lack of affordable access to children's mental health coverage led to over 12,700 children being placed into the child welfare or juvenile justice system solely to obtain mental health services. Substance abuse is also a critical issue within the child welfare community, as drug abuse is estimated to be a factor in one to two-thirds of cases of children with substantiated reports of abuse and neglect, and in two-thirds of cases of children in foster care.

The field of child welfare has long borne the results of inequitable treatment of mental illness in our society, and expanding the civil rights of people with mental health and substance abuse needs through increased access to necessary health care will benefit countless children and families. The early introduction of and swift action on mental health parity legislation in the 110th Congress is an exciting development, and CWLA looks forward to working with you and your Senate colleagues - as well as the House of Representatives - to promptly enact this legislation.


Shay Bilchik

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