Mind the Gap: Creating a Robust Continuum of Behavioral Health Care for Young Ohioans
At a time when so many young Ohioans are struggling with behavioral health challenges, many that have been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical to ensure Ohio has a network of behavioral health services that provide timely, quality care to all children, adolescents, and young adults, regardless of income or location. A new study that will be released tomorrow takes a detailed, systematic look at overlapping systems that impact behavioral health for children, from birth through childhood and into adulthood, across every one of Ohio’s 88 counties.
Mind the Gap: Creating a Robust Continuum of Behavioral Health Care for Young Ohioans, co-authored by the Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio (CDF-Ohio) and the Mental Health & Addiction Advocacy Coalition (MHAC) is the first data set of its kind to review services and supports available to each child at the county level in Ohio. Its findings reflect what communities have accomplished, identifies unmet need, and defines the factors that support development of a comprehensive Continuum of Care (CoC), which integrates physical health, health promotion and prevention, treatment, and recovery support services.
By establishing a common understanding and shared vocabulary, the report provides tangible information and concrete data to inform decision-making. Local and state policymakers and other stakeholders can take recommended actions to address gaps in the CoC.
The proposed CoC identifies the types of behavioral health services that should be available at each age and stage of development for young Ohioans prenatal up to age 26, along with their caregivers. Defining a universal CoC for Ohio’s 88 counties is a critical first step in delineating what should be available, where capacity exists, and what is needed in terms of services and opportunities for greater investments and focused attention. Using the CoC as a framework, CDF-Ohio and the MHAC surveyed the 50 Alcohol, Drug Addiction, Mental Health and Recovery Services (ADAMHS) Boards throughout Ohio on the availability of behavioral health services by age.
The information provided by the ADAMHS Boards, coupled with data from the Ohio Departments of Medicaid and Mental Health and Addiction Services, provides a roadmap for ensuring young Ohioans and their families can access and receive the behavioral health services and supports they need, when and where they need them.
Cultivating Opportunities for Youth to Flourish in Franklin County
When our youth are valued, they are better able to pursue opportunities and are better able to engage in our community. However, at least 15,000 (9.2%) youth ages 16–24 in Franklin County are not enrolled in school or participating in the workforce; at least 3,000 youth under age 24 in Franklin County are homeless; and over 17,000 students faced barriers to reaching key educational milestones in the 2017–2018 school year. To effectively address these issues, it is important to understand the characteristics of and barriers facing our youth, especially those who are not enrolled in school or participating in the workforce, commonly referred to as Opportunity Youth. By understanding their characteristics and the barriers they face, we can better understand their needs, the resources required to meet their needs, and how best to support their transition to adulthood. When our youth have access to resources that meet their basic needs they are able to focus and excel in work, school, and other aspects of their lives. In this report, CDF-Ohio focused on Opportunity Youth and youth with unmet basic needs, regardless of their education or employment status.
Over the past several years, Franklin County and the City of Columbus, in partnership with local and regional stakeholders, service providers, and others, released reports and analyses exploring poverty, Opportunity Youth, and homeless youth. This report builds on the foundation of those reports, takes a fresh look at the data, and incorporates the voices of our youth and youth-serving providers and program leaders who identified continuing barriers and new opportunities.