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Mental Health Services for Children

5/21/2003:   According to the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO), more than 12,700 children were placed in the child welfare system in 2001 simply because their families did not have the insurance or financial resources to provide them with mental health treatment. Children who enter state custody generally become eligible for Medicaid, which covers a range of services, but foster care systems also face difficulties accessing limited treatment resources for children with serious emotional disorders—and the separation itself can be emotionally devastating for families.

But a new report by the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law provides some other options. Avoiding Cruel Choices: A Guide for Policymakers and Family Organizations on Medicaid's Role in Preventing Custody Relinquishment, discusses other alternatives provided by the Tax Equity and Financial Responsibility Act of 1983, allowing children to gain access to services while remaining in their homes.

To view the full report and some relevant fact sheets, visit www.bazelon.org/issues/children/publications/TEFRA/index.htm. To access the GAO report, visit www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-03-397.

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