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Kids With Complex Behavioral Health Issues Benefit From Local Care

Magellan In Wyoming

The Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) and Wyoming Medicaid is working to help kids with complex behavioral health challenges find local care, instead of being placed in residential psychiatric treatment.

The state contracts with Magellan Healthcare to coordinate what are called high fidelity wraparound services that allow kids to receive treatment while staying in their own homes.

"The program is specifically targeting children that have any kind of psychiatric or mental health diagnosis, or kids that have any social or emotional challenges that would make them at risk for an out-of-home placement," said Lindsey Schilling, a Wyoming Medicaid Provider Operations Administrator.

She said the four-year-old program is showing positive results.

"Clinically I think the evidence would support that children with these types of services needs do better if they receive these services in home environments, in their own communities, their own schools," said Schilling.

A statement from the WDH released this week reported that the number of out-of-placements for program participants have decreased and that while some kids still need out-of-home treatment, the length of those stays has also decreased. The program is also more cost-effective, according to the WDH statement.

The program primarily serves kids ages 4 to 21 who are enrolled in Medicaid, but kids who don't qualify can apply for a waiver. In both cases, kids need to score high enough on a mental health needs assessment.

Some say the required clinical assessment score is too high, excluding kids who are not yet in crisis but who would benefit from extra support. Schilling said the program is up for renewal, and a part of that process involves reaching out to stakeholders to discuss improvements.

Tennessee -- despite what the name might make you think -- was born and raised in the Northeast. She most recently called Vermont home. For the last 15 years she's been making radio -- as a youth radio educator, documentary producer, and now reporter. Her work has aired on Reveal, The Heart, LatinoUSA, Across Women's Lives from PRI, and American RadioWorks. One of her ongoing creative projects is co-producing Wage/Working (a jukebox-based oral history project about workers and income inequality). When she's not reporting, Tennessee likes to go on exploratory running adventures with her mutt Murray.
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