Voices for Children’s Kids Count Report Illuminates Children’s Behavioral Health Needs

Voices for ChildrenLast week, Voices for Children in Nebraska released their 2010 Kids Count in Nebraska report.  This valuable report tracks the status of children in Nebraska using the best available data across several key indicators including educational, social, economic and physical well-being.

This year’s Kids Count report includes a special feature on Children’s Behavioral Health in Nebraska. The report estimates that approximately one in ten children in Nebraska have at least one emotional, behavioral, or developmental condition.  These children make up 26% of children in foster care, 65-70% of youth in the juvenile justice system, and a disproportionate number of children who drop out of high school and live in poverty.  Moreover, the report indicates that Nebraska has limited services available to these children.  About 57% of Nebraska children live in counties determined to be Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) for mental health.

Voices for Children notes that programs, such as the Nebraska Family Helpline and Right Turn, created by the Nebraska Legislature to address gaps in the behavioral health system, are currently threatened by the projected budget shortfall and recommends that these programs be maintained.  The report also recommends monitoring of the federal health care reform package to ensure provisions designed to enhance children’s access to behavioral health are implemented as intended, identifying funding streams to provide preventative services to children who are not state wards or eligible for Medicaid, ensuring children have the appropriate level of care without becoming a state ward, utilizing telehealth programs when appropriate, and restoring prenatal care to all pregnant low-income women.

Click here to read an article in the Lincoln Journal Star on the Kids Count report.

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