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University of South Florida · College of Behavioral & Community Sciences · Mental Health Law & Policy


Key Personnel:
Ilene R. Berson, Ph.D.
Amy C. Vargo, M.A.
Diane Powell, Ph.D.
Kathleen A. Dailey, M.Ed.
Zheng Zheng, M.P.H.
Mary I. Armstrong, M.S.W.

Infant and Toddler Medicaid-Funded Mental Health Services

Publication Date: 6/1/2002

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The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) contracted with the University of South Florida's Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute (FMHI) during FY2001-02 to conduct a baseline analysis of Medicaid-funded mental health services to young children ages 0-5 years. Specifically, this study was designed to: (1) assist in understanding the policy and funding issues that impact mental health services provided to children from birth to age five; (2) identify emerging best practices guidelines for promoting mental health development of infants and toddlers; (3) identify providers who provide therapies, treatments, and relationship based interventions; (4) examine how the system currently links Medicaid billing codes with the DSM diagnostic categories for children birth to age three years; (5) examine the screening instruments used by Medicaid providers to assess for emotional impairments; and, (6) identify available reimbursement streams for infant/toddler mental health services and consultations, including criteria for mental health services to children ages birth to five.

Analyses were conducted using administrative Medicaid claims data from FY2000-01. Children ages 0-5 years who accessed Medicaid-funded mental health services during that time period were included in the sample. Phone interviews were conducted with providers in selected early childhood service sites throughout the state of Florida to obtain respondents' views of best practices and to identify deficiencies in the current system of mental health care for this population. Stakeholder informants were identified through a "snowball sampling" technique. The project team drew on the knowledge and expertise of participants in mental health, special education, early childhood education, and disability-related fields.