For the Children: Establishing a More Effective Behavioral Health Program for Ohio Families

Richard Shepler headshot

Some Ohio parents whose children have critical behavioral-health needs faced an agonizing decision in recent years: whether to give up custody of their children to secure care in a live-in treatment center they simply couldn’t afford.

It was a heartbreaking reality Ohio officials wanted to remedy as part of sweeping statewide changes they are making with the help of Case Western Reserve researchers.

Richard Shepler, PhD, co-director of the Center for Innovative Practices at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, leads the 12-member CWRU team awarded a five-year, $20 million-plus grant to identify and help implement proven strategies and policies to expand and enhance children’s behavioral health services across the board.

Their work includes providing training, technical assistance, coaching, consultations, monitoring and evaluation for everything from crisis mobile-response services to intensive home-based treatment programs.

And it includes supporting the implementation of OhioRISE (Ohio Resilience through Integrated Systems and Excellence), an initiative launched in July to benefit children and youth up to age 20 in Ohio’s Medicaid program who have complex behavioral health needs.

Under OhioRISE, children in crisis now can get services from a 24/7 mobile-response team. Intensive home-based treatment also brings care to the family, decreasing the need for more restrictive, live-in facilities.

And, in coming months, if a child in OhioRISE needs psychiatric treatment at an in-patient center, the costs will be covered by public money. Previously, families who couldn’t afford such treatment sometimes had to relinquish custody to receive publicly funded care.

“Children and families enrolled in OhioRISE will feel heard, respected and validated, with specialized services and supports tailored to the needs and strengths identified by the family,” Shepler said.

By Michelle Tedford

This story appeared in the Fall/Winter 2022 issue of Think magazine. Read more stories from the magazine.