Children with behavioral health needs served by Medicaid are a complex and vulnerable population, requiring access to an array of services to support their health and well-being. Too often these children’s needs are not met by the current fragmented system, resulting in inappropriate and inefficient care, and missed opportunities to improve care delivery and outcomes.

Better understanding the patterns of service use and expenses for these children can help states design more effective approaches to care for this high-need, high-cost population. To explore this issue, the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) conducted a national Faces of Medicaid analysis of behavioral health service use and expense for children in Medicaid in all 50 states. The study uncovered valuable information regarding:

  • Behavioral and physical health service use, expense, and diagnoses;
  • Use of psychotropic medications; and
  • Patterns of service use and expense for children in foster care and children with developmental disabilities.

This 90-minute webinar, made possible through support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, highlights findings of the Children’s Faces of Medicaid study and provides on-the-ground perspectives from Georgia and Maryland on how these findings can inform state quality improvement efforts and policy reforms.


I. Introduction

Speaker: Kamala Allen, Director of Child Health Quality, CHCS

Kamala Allen introduced CHCS’ Faces of Medicaid series and discussed the rationale for the Children’s Faces study in the current environment.

II. Study Highlights and Policy Implications

Speakers: Sheila Pires, Partner, Human Service Collaborative, and Katherine E. Grimes, MD, MPH, Associate Clinical Professor, Dept. of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

Researchers Sheila Pires and Katherine Grimes provided an overview of the Children’s Faces study methods, and outline the key findings, briefly touching on high-level policy implications.

III. On-the-Ground Perspectives

Speakers: Wendy Tiegreen, Deputy Chief of Staff, Georgia Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities, and Michelle Zabel, Director, University of Maryland School of Social Work

Ms. Tiegreen and Ms. Zabel provided perspectives from their own states – Georgia and Maryland – on the relevance of the Children’s Faces findings, briefly describing their own experiences in gaining buy-in and identifying opportunities to improve care for this high-need population. Kamala Allen moderated a panelist discussion to address how these findings can be used to drive state quality improvement efforts and inform policy decisions.