Child Health

Federal Resources Available to Improve Children’s Mental Health Care

June 10, 2022 | Ohio

Federal Resources Available to Improve Children’s Mental Health Care

June 10, 2022

By Kelly Vyzral, Senior Health Policy Associate

In the wake of the horrible school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, the US Department of Health and Human Services has issued a joint letter to states encouraging them to prioritize children’s mental health and well-being and to maximize all available federal funding streams to expand mental health services for children.

The letter was signed by the leaders of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) which administers the Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) that is responsible for the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that provides coverage for mental and behavioral health care, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) that supports evidence-based primary prevention programs and mental health resources, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) that provides early childhood mental health supports for children and families involved in the child welfare program through the Title IV-E Prevention Program, and the Administration for Community Living (ACL) which offers programs for children with mental health needs.

The mental and behavioral health of children has suffered over the past 2 years due to the pandemic, and the increase in mass shootings especially those occurring in schools has added to the crisis we are facing. According to the Ohio Children’s Behavioral Health Prevention Network, Ohio ranks 13th highest in the nation for the number of children who have experienced 2 or more adverse childhood experiences(ACES). ACES are potentially traumatic events in a child’s life that can have a negative long-lasting effect on the child, these include abuse, neglect, violence, or addiction, mental illness, or incarceration in the family. Although Ohio ranks near the middle of states for access to mental health care for youth, more than half of children who experienced major depression did not receive mental health services and only 33% received consistent treatment, and the ADAMH Boards report the availability of services for young Ohioans is inconsistent throughout the state.

Given these statistics, Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio encourages the DeWine administration to take full advantage of all available opportunities and funding streams to strengthen and expand access to high quality behavioral health care for children in Ohio.

To learn more about the state of behavioral health care for children in Ohio read the Mind the Gap report. This report authored by the Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio and the Mental Health and Addiction Advocacy Coalition with information provided by the ADAMH Boards and the Ohio Departments of Medicaid, and Mental Health and Addiction Services, presents a roadmap for ensuring children in Ohio and their families can access high quality behavioral health services and supports where and when they need them.

For more information contact Kelly Vyzral, senior health policy associate at