John’s path towards success

Accessing services for John*, a 14-year-old boy with private insurance—a real challenge!
Another vital function of the Juvenile Court Clinics is to advise families about services to meet the needs of their kids. It is not often possible for individuals with private insurance to access services through the Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative (CBHI) because CBHI is only for children with MassHealth, the public health insurance program for low-to-medium income residents of Massachusetts. For example, 14-year-old John was involved with the Worcester County Juvenile Court following assault and battery charges against his two older sisters. John suffered from depression and engaged in self-harming (cutting) behaviors. Had he MassHealth, the Juvenile Court Clinician would have referred him and his family immediately for CBHI services. But they were not eligible for such services because they were privately insured through John’s mother’s job.
After completing an evaluation, the Juvenile Court Clinician encountered long delays and waiting lists at all three area agencies as she attempted to piece together the recommended services, which included family stabilization services to work on family relationships and house rules, along with individual therapy to treat John’s depression. John’s mother was eager to get started with treatment for her son and the Clinician continued to follow up with providers. Unfortunately, during this delay, John ran from his home, incurred additional charges, and missed a court date. When he was back in Court, the judge ordered for him to be held for 30 days in the Department of Youth Services. It was only when John was released that he and his family were linked with appropriate services—many weeks after his initial Court Clinic evaluation.
Juvenile Court Clinicians know what services to recommend, which is an important first step. The next step is for teens to gain access to services in a timely manner so further psychological distress and court involvement can be prevented. Fortunately, the state is bringing private insurers together with MassHealth to find a solution for improving access to vital mental health services for all kids.

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