Medicaid Support for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health: Lessons from Five States

By: Kay Johnson and Elisabeth Burak

Five states’ journeys to strengthen Medicaid support for infant and early childhood mental health (IECMH) –California, Colorado, Michigan, North Carolina, and Washington — offer lessons for other states seeking to more effectively prevent, identify, and address mental health conditions among young children in Medicaid. Lessons speak to the importance of:

1. Leadership
2. Strategic Partnerships
3. Advocacy
4. Incremental Progress
5. Medicaid Policy Levers
6. Addressing the full Continuum of Care from Prevention to Treatment

States seeking to apply the lessons from these and other states can get started in a number of ways depending on state policy context and political will: cultivating leadership, engaging a range of public and private partners, creating a strategic plan with clear priorities, linking IECMH to broader state health reform efforts, identifying state-specific Medicaid opportunities and taking steps toward health equity by engaging with and listening directly to families.

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