DCS pilot program closes mental health gap

INDIANAPOLIS - A pilot program to provide mental health services to children in need without court intervention is being hailed by advocates as a "big step in the right direction."

The program exists in 11 counties and uses state money to help close a treatment gap exposed by The Times in Munster. The newspaper found last year that children with severe mental illnesses or developmental disabilities weren't receiving services and were often entering the court system instead.

The pilot program calls for school, community and court officials to refer children needing mental health services to a mental health access site that evaluates their need. Those who qualify and aren't eligible for Medicaid or lack private insurance to cover the cost are referred to DCS.

Twenty-five children are currently getting services.

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