CHILDREN WITH unmet mental health problems suffer the effects. So do their families. But the consequences don’t stop there: Many of these children will need costly special education, end up in the juvenile justice system, drop out of school and grow into adults who are unable to get work and will rely on public assistance. The cost to children, families and society is why it is so important that the D.C. government focus attention on improving its children’s mental health system.
A report released this month by the Children’s Law Center, a leading advocacy group for at-risk children, estimated that at least 5,000 District children are going without needed mental health services. Nationally, 12.4 percent of children ages 6 to 17 who receive Medicaid have mental health conditions, yet the District, where more than 61 percent of children are on Medicaid, is serving less than 6 percent of such children.