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 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 System of Care 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 individualized “wraparound” service plan is intended to be strengths-based, and promoting home and community life.
Children may also be eligible for other home- and community-based services such as Family Support and Training, In-Home Therapy, In-Home Behavioral Services, Therapeutic Mentoring and Mobile Crisis Intervention, however the availability of many of these services has been uneven.

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, February 2018

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