Behavioral Health
Article

Ohio’s Multi-System Youth Coalition

February 1, 2021
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Community Solutions is proud to be a member of the Ohio Multi System Youth Coalition. The Coalition consists of youth, families, providers and stakeholders from across Ohio committed to better outcomes for multi-system youth (MSY) and their families. The Coalition has continually worked on issues related to youth and families since 2016, with the formation of the Joint Legislative Committee (JLC) on Multi-System Youth. The Coalition has consistently voiced concerns regarding data, availability of services, youth placed out-of-state, and custody relinquishment – families giving up custody not because of abuse or neglect, but rather as the only way to access or fund needed services.

 The Coalition consists of youth, families, providers and stakeholders from across Ohio committed to better outcomes for multi-system youth (MSY) and their families.

During the 2020-21 state budget process, the Coalition advocated for increased efforts in multiple state agencies, including full implementation of the JLC MSY recommendations. As a result of these efforts, HB166 included multiple funding and policy commitments: the development of a Multi-System Youth Action Plan (Ohio FCFC); increased funding (ODJFS, DODD, OMHAS, ODM); and firm policy intent to end custody relinquishment for the sole purpose of accessing services.  

Since the passage of HB166, Coalition members have remained active, participating in the Multi-System Youth Action Plan committee, meeting with legislators and members of the administration, and growing a group of advocate-families to continue the work.

Stop gap

The JLC on Multi-System Youth and later the MSY Action Plan focused on seven key areas: data, peer supports, safety-net funding, high fidelity wraparound, local Family and Children First councils, congregate care, and custody relinquishment. Significant progress has been made in many of these areas.

 HB166 created a flexible pool of funds for Ohio’s multi-system youth.

HB166 created a flexible pool of funds for Ohio’s multi-system youth. For many families, this “safety-net” funding was a stop gap. They could access needed services/supports without relinquishing custody. To date, more than 500 applications for funding or technical assistance have been received, and nearly $11M has been authorized to serve youth/families across 75 of Ohio’s 88 counties.

Long-term solutions

While MSY funds provided immediate relief and resources to many families in fiscal years 2020 and 2021, the JLC and MSY Action Plan included many more recommendations that deserve the same attention. Without these changes, the need for emergent funding will only continue. The Coalition has worked with Ohio’s health and human service agencies to inform their policy, program and funding decisions and to advance the long-term goals of the Coalition. Specifically:

  • Ohio Department of Medicaid: expanded behavioral health services in a state plan and intensive care coordination through newly proposed OhioRISE that includes mobile response and stabilization, and psychiatric residential treatment facilities. OhioRISE will create one specialized managed care system rather than five, focused on the needs of between 50,000 and 60,000 children with multiple needs. Specifically, several key services to be added or expanded under OhioRISE include:  
  • Intensive care coordination using High Fidelity Wraparound  
  • Moderate care coordination using a Wraparound-informed approach  
  • Mobile Response and Stabilization Services (MRSS)  
  • Intensive Home-Based Treatment (IHBT) Services  
  • Psychiatric residential treatment
  • Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities: additional funding and required training for Intermediate Care Facilities willing to serve multi-system youth.
  • Ohio Department of Job and Family Services: implementation of the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA), including funding for evidence-based prevention services, qualified residential treatment programs, and placement costs for children in custody.
  • Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services: establishment of Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Center of Excellence focused on building capacity for standardized assessment, evaluating effectiveness of services and expanding care coordination capacity.

Looking ahead

The MSY Coalition applauds the commitment of the General Assembly and the DeWine administration to support children, youth and families in their homes; in their communities to the greatest extent possible; and to eliminate the need for families to relinquish custody in order to access services.

 The Coalition maintains our commitment to Ohio’s multi-system youth and their families.

The Coalition maintains our commitment to Ohio’s multi-system youth and their families and will continue to advocate for full implementation of the recommendations outlined in the JLC and MSY Action Plan. It is not enough to address one piece of this complicated issue that affects Ohio families. Policy change must occur at the state and local level in order for lasting change to occur and to avoid revisiting this devastating issue every 10 years. The Coalition, and Community Solutions as a proud member, stands ready to work with Ohio’s leaders on this crucial issue.  

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