New Resources Available
It is important for public policy initiatives to address needs throughout the lifespan, including those of children and their families. An ongoing federal initiative for children has broad implications for those working with adults as well, in light of calls to improve care for young adults and similar challenges in policy and service delivery in both systems.
Collaboration across federal departments has been continuing on behalf of children and adolescents with dual diagnoses. The goal of this effort has been to identify and remove federal policy barriers in an effort to help states and communities improve care for this vulnerable population.
Four intergovernmental meetings have been held, as a result of the energized leadership of Dr. Margaret Giannini, Director of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Office on Disability, and Ms. Eileen Elias, Deputy Director. The Center for Mental Health Services at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and, recently, the Social Security Administration have co-sponsored the initiative. Numerous federal offices have been involved in this effort, including the Departments of Justice, Education, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Labor and additional DHHS agencies such as the Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services, Administration on Developmental Disabilities, Administration for Children Youth and Families, Centers for Disease Control and Health Resources and Services Administration. These federal policy meetings were an outgrowth of a Roundtable organized by the Georgetown National Technical Assistance Center for Children's Mental Health in August 2003.
A white paper from a federal summit held in April 2005 as part of this effort is now available at the Office on Disability website: A Report of the Summit: State-Community Response to Barriers for Children with Co-occurring Developmental Disabilities and Emotional/Substance Abuse Disorders: http://www.hhs.gov/od/programs.html The document includes presentations from parents, states and communities about best practices, strategies for coordinated funding and data on cost benefits of fully coordinated and community-based approaches. Many policy recommendations that have come out of the interdepartmental process to date are included in the document. PowerPoint presentations and an archived web cast may also be found at http://tvworldwide.com/events/hhs/050427/
Many of the issues and proposed remedies found in the white paper are similar to those found in the reviews of the adult service system. This is an important step to improve policies and services for children and their families. Children and adult service systems should be strongly encouraged to work in close collaboration in order to provide seamless effective care.
Submitted by Diane M. Jacobstein, PhD
Georgetown National Technical Assistance Center
For Children's Mental Health