Teaming Up: Using the IDEA and Medicaid to Secure Comprehensive Mental Health Services for Children and Youth
The IDEA was originally passed by Congress more than 25 years ago as the Education for the Handicapped Act (EHA). The law entitles children with disabilities to “a free appropriate public education which emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs.”8 To accomplish this goal, the IDEA calls for states to implement individualized educational programs (IEPs) for all students who qualify under the law as disabled, including children with emotional disorders.9 This law has been used to obtain a range of non-academic services needed by children who are identified with “emotional disturbance,” including counseling, day treatment and residential care. However, it limits services to those required to assist a child in benefitting from special education —a significant restriction. School districts often use it to deny payment for some services, including room-and-board costs for residential treatment, and to exclude critical family supports, such as respite care and evening and weekend crisis services. Here is where Medicaid can come into play when a child is eligible for it, as a health program that covers many of these services (Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law) (Author).
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