Increase Children’s Access to Mental Health Care

Target: Department of Health Care Finance Executive Team

Goal: Increase children’s access to mental health care services in the District of Columbia

The Children’s Law Center, a leading nonprofit advocacy group, has estimated that at least 5,000 children in the District of Columbia are going without desperately needed mental health care. The district has taken steps to increase access, but more needs to be done. Urge the D.C. Department of Health Care Finance to make mental health services a priority for these at-risk children.

The consequences of ignoring the mental health needs of children, especially children from low-income families, can have a lasting impact: children who don’t receive the care they need are at greater risk of truancy, crime and future unemployment. The Children’s Law Center initially released a report with recommendations for mental health care reform in 2012. The nonprofit recently released an update, including a report card assessing the district’s progress. The District of Columbia received three “making progress,” two “incomplete,” and two “needs improvement” grades out of seven areas. Clearly there is much to be done.

According to the update,  the district has made “significant progress” in increasing access to mental health care for children, including receiving two federal grants for mental health care training and planning. But there are still problems: for instance, there is no single agency in charge of running or reforming the mental health care system, and the success of these first steps depends heavily on the performance of the Department of Health Care Finance in overseeing managed-care organizations that provide services for low-income children.

The Department of Health Care Finance must make it a priority to ensure that the recommendations of the Children’s Law Center be followed. Urge the Executive Team of the department to step up and increase access to mental health care services for the district’s neediest children.


Dear Executive Team of the Department of Health Care Finance,

The Children’s Law Center recently released an update to its 2012 report, including a report card marking the progress of the District of Columbia’s efforts to establish a functioning mental health care system for children. The report estimates that over 5,000 children in the district are in desperate need of comprehensive mental health care. Your department oversees the contractors who provide mental health care for the city’s low-income children. We urge you to take action and make access to mental health services a priority for the district’s children.

Access to working mental health care services can help lower or prevent problems in children with mental illness, including decreasing the possibility of truancy, crime and even unemployment. It is absolutely essential that your department stay on top of the contractors that provide care for low-income children, and ensure that they receive the care they need and deserve.

It is our hope that the District of Columbia will continue to work toward providing the district’s children with comprehensive mental health care services as recommended by the Children’s Law Center.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Roy Higson via Fotopedia

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One Comment

  1. Vanessa Solis Vanessa Solis says:

    Providing at-risk children with mental health care services early on can help them, and the community, in the long run.

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