Congress must pass legislation that addresses barriers to mental health care for youth and their families, including maternal mental health care, services and prevention for children and adolescents, Medicaid reform, and bolstering the workforce.

Maternal mental health: postpartum depression affects up to 15% of women, and the negative short-and long-term effects on child development are well-established. Preventing major depressive episodes at any time, but particularly during pregnancy and the postpartum period, is critically important to the welfare of both children and mothers.

  • Increase funding and efforts through the Maternal and Child Health Block grant
  • Increase funding to the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program.

Adolescents and youth: According to the Surgeon General’s Advisory, “Protecting Youth Mental Health,” the proportion of high school students reporting persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness increased by 40% between 2009 to 2019. (Surgeon General, 2021). We ask that congress,

  • Pass HR 4944 Helping Kids Cope Act, increasing the scope of health care provider grant funding,
  • Through Title IV-B Reauthorization, create tutoring and mentoring programs for students in foster care, with particular focus on students of color
  • Support LGBTQ+ foster children and families, who are more vulnerable to mental health issues, by passing the John Lewis Every Child Deserves a Family Act.

Medicaid: Medicaid must provide the physical, mental, and behavioral health services vital to the wellbeing of youth in foster care and children with special needs who have been adopted.

  • Adopt the Medicaid Bump Act to increase the Federal matching rate in Medicaid for behavioral health and substance abuse services
  • Make Medicaid mandatory for all children and youth in and from foster care, including subsidized guardianships even if they are ineligible for Title IV-E federal funding.

Workforce: The need for more professional well-trained, staffed, encouraged, and supported behavioral health workforce is evident. Strategies must include school loan forgiveness, better reimbursement, training, and integration of training between professions and a host of efforts by HHS and their umbrella agencies, the Education Department, and the Labor Department.

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