For 10 years, Georgia state leaders have blocked access to affordable health coverage via Medicaid to almost 600,000 Georgians, Knetta Adkins with Georgians for a Healthy Future said last month.
Georgians for a Healthy Future hosted an educational forum titled Strong Foundations: Building a System of Care to Address the Behavioral Health Needs of Georgia Children on Tuesday, May 15. The forum explored the behavioral health needs of Georgia children and youth, Georgia’s publicly-supported behavioral health landscape, and successes and opportunities in the current system of care. The event also raised awareness about Georgia’s system of care in an effort to improve access to behavioral health services for children and youth.
The event began with Respect Institute speaker Tammie Harrison, who shared her experiences navigating the behavioral health care system and getting to a place of recovery.
Because many of the event attendees were new to the topic of children’s behavioral health (BH), GHF’s Executive Director Laura Colbert provided some foundational information about the prevalence of children’s BH conditions, contributors to poor BH, and the pathways to BH care and supports for young Georgians. You can find Laura’s PowerPoint slides here. She also debuted GHF’s new behavioral health fact sheet.
Dante McKay, Director of the Office of Children, Young Adults, & Families at the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) provided attendees with an overview of DBHDD’s work, the 2017 System of Care state plan, and how the recently signed FY19 budget would impact the department’s ability to serve Georgia children and youth.
Dr. Erica Fener-Sitkoff, Executive Director of Voices for Georgia’s Children moderated a panel discussion of BH service providers, which included Wendy Farmer of Behavioral Health Link, Laura Lucas of Project LAUNCH (DBHDD), and Monica McGannon of CHRIS 180. The panelists discussed barriers to accessing BH services, which they said include continued stigma, lack of trained workforce, and transportation. The panel also identified innovative efforts, like Project LAUNCH and mobile crisis services, to bring BH services closer to consumers when and where they need it. When asked how Georgia’s next Governor could continue to make progress in the area of children’s behavioral health, panelists suggested a focus on workforce development, increasing access to community-based substance use treatment for teens, and prevention and early intervention.
If you missed the event, a recording of the webcast is available here.
To see photos, review materials, and read more about our Strong Foundations event, please visit the event page.
Georgia’s rate of uninsured children has dropped from 11 percent during the depths of the recession to 7.6 percent in 2014. Despite this improvement, that means that 189,000 Georgia kids do not have access to needed health care and their families are without the financial protection that comes with coverage. In order to address this need, people who regularly work with children need to be aware of the importance of health coverage to children, and have the resources they need to connect kids and families with coverage quickly and easily.
That is why GHF partnered with the Georgia Departments of Education and Public Health to conduct a webinar called “Covering Kids.” The webinar was created for school nurses because they are such important sources of health information for families and students. During the webinar, Laura Colbert, Director of Outreach and Partnerships, reviewed the short and long term benefits of health care coverage for kids, which include academic and economic benefits on top of improved health outcomes. She also discussed trends and current statistics on children’s coverage in Georgia, and highlighted the pathways to coverage for kids which vary based on family income. Most importantly, she identified valuable community resources so that school nurses across the state can connect families and children with local assistance and information to help get them enrolled. This webinar is available to view on the School Nurse Exchange, and nurses who complete the webinar and an evaluation can receive CEU credits.
For more information about children’s health care coverage, check out these resources: