Study finds 3 out of 4 children with mental health needs don't get treated
by Adrian Florido | 89.3 KPCC | http://bit.ly/1Aq7iza
July 24 2014 :: A UCLA study released Thursday suggests only about a quarter of California children with mental health needs receive treatment.
The study, based on a 2007 to 2009 survey of parents, found that about 300,000 California children - ages 4 to 11 - have mental health needs.
And while more than 90 percent of them reportedly had health insurance, about 70 percent nevertheless went without treatment, the study found.
“When we think of access (to health care) as having insurance...these children have access,” said Imelda Padilla-Frausto, lead author of the study. “The fact that they aren’t getting mental health treatment suggests there are other barriers besides health insurance."
Among those likely barriers, she says, are challenges with navigating the healthcare system; stigma associated with seeking mental health treatment; and language difficulties.
The study found, for example, that among children whose parents were not proficient in English, 89 percent went without mental health treatment, compared to 67 percent of those from English-proficient households.
LA schools shaving mental health for special ed students
July 23 2014 :: Next school year, the Los Angeles Unified School District is cutting the budget for psychiatric social workers for special education students by 15 percent, raising fears among the special ed social workers that their numbers will be reduced.
The district denies that it will reduce the overall number of psychiatric social workers, but a spokeswoman would not say how many social workers will be dedicated to special education next year.
"We are not cutting PSWs," said district spokeswoman Monica Carazo in an email. "In essence, we’re reshuffling the PSWs to other departments and the funding will come from different sources," she said, adding, "we are not taking away services from special ed students."
Carazo did not identify the departments to which some psychiatric social worker positions would be moved, but the district is establishing 60 new social workers slots to care for L.A. Unified's more than 8,000 students in foster care.
The budget for special education psychiatric social workers is dipping form $7.8 million in the 2013-14 school year to $6.64 million for the 2014-15 year.
A smaller staff serving special ed kids could lead to larger caseloads for the remaining counselors, which could negatively affect quality of care, said psychiatric social worker John Paul Cabrera.
"It takes away our ability to build good relationships and trust amongst students, families and schools," said Cabrera, who cares for children with ADD and autism as well as those diagnosed with an emotional disturbance - a catchall label for students struggling with mental health issues such as depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.
"When they shift staff around like this, they should be transparent," Benjamin Conway, a children's rights attorney with Public Counsel, a group that spent months advocating for increasing foster care services.
"The public should know what they are doing," Conway said. "It's entirely possible that this is a benign budget shift, but its impossible to tell because the budget is murky. Burying it a 200-page budget doesn't allow the public to have that kind of input."