According to data from the Family Service Association of Bucks County (Family Service) Call Center, children in every socioeconomic group across Bucks County are experiencing unprecedented mental health challenges.
Sadly, many of these children in crisis cannot be treated by Family Service clinicians, due to barriers set by many commercial insurance providers. A recent $12,500 Bucks Innovation & Improvement Grant from Foundations Community Partnership (FCP) aims to address this growing problem.
Family Service manages the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and CONTACT Help Line for Bucks County. Since 2019, there has been a dramatic spike in crisis calls from or about children 12 and under; as well as those between 13 and 17.
Insurance companies expect those with commercial insurance to be treated by only licensed clinicians. As the job market for licensed clinicians has grown increasingly competitive, hiring has been a challenge. Thus, callers with commercial insurance are placed on a waitlist for a licensed Family Service clinician, or the carrier will not cover treatment.
This funding will help support out-of-pocket costs for a portion of these children to be treated by any of the Family Service Masters-level clinicians, all of whom are very capable and willing to counsel them, as they already do for Medicaid clients, because licensure is not a requirement under Medicaid policy.
Julie Dees, chief executive officer at Family Service, is thankful to FCP for its recognition and understanding of this serious problem.
“Even prior to the pandemic, we were seeing an increase in mental health crises for our children and youth,” said Dees. “This is both frustrating and sad, because it is preventable...”
She continued, “Family Service is grateful to FCP for this funding, because it will absolutely help to bridge this gap in coverage until a long-term solution is determined and allow these struggling children to get the immediate counseling they need.”