Children's Behavioral Health Initiative

  • Description
  • Funding History
  • Proposals

The Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative (CBHI) supports comprehensive behavioral health screening during a pediatric well-child visit for all children eligible for MassHealth. CBHI also covers comprehensive, community-based behavioral health services for children diagnosed with severe emotional disturbance.

As part of the CBHI, primary care physicians or nurses screen patients under the age of 21 for behavioral health needs, using a standardized behavioral assessment tool during routine well-child visits. This assessment looks at a child’s behavior, mood, energy level, sleeping habits, social skills, and school performance. The primary care provider can then identify the need for further services to address emotional, psychiatric, or behavioral concerns. If appropriate, the primary care provider makes a referral to a mental health clinician.

CBHI then requires mental health clinicians to assess children using the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) assessment tool. This process is designed to focus on the strength and needs of the families. If a child is determined to be “seriously emotionally disturbed” the child may be eligible for Intensive Care Coordination and a treatment plan of “wraparound” services.

The Intensive Care Coordination program includes a home-based assessment and a coordinator who will help develop and implement a set of comprehensive community-based mental health, social service, or other services for the child and family. The “wraparound” service plan is built around a set of core principles that include such values as individualization for each child, reflection of the perspectives of the child and family, being strengths based, and promoting home and community life. Other home- and community-based services available for eligible children may include: Family Support and Training, In-Home Therapy, In-Home Behavioral Services, Therapeutic Mentoring and Mobile Crisis Intervention. The availability of many of these services has been limited, and there have been persistent wait lists.

The CBHI is the result of a lawsuit against the state (known as Rosie D.) that successfully argued that MassHealth had failed to meet its obligation under federal Medicaid law to provide Early Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) services to children with serious emotional disturbances.

Updated, December 2015

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