Children with Serious Emotional Disturbance

In the Massachusetts Medicaid program, MassHealth, 5 to 8 percent of children are diagnosed with serious emotional disturbance (SED) annually.  Whether the children are treated in community and family settings or in acute care facilities, their health care needs place a significant burden on the system.

UMass Medical School’s Center for Health Policy and Research provides policy analysis and evaluation services to public health and managed care organizations, such as MassHealth, to help them assess their effectiveness, identify unmet needs, and determine alternative ways to provide treatment in the most beneficial and cost-effective manner.

Key Projects

Behavioral Health Screening for Children and Adolescents with Well Visits
Part of the 2008 Clinical Topic Review for MassHealth, this study will collect information on behavioral health screening, diagnoses, and services for children and adolescents from birth to age 21.

Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Flow Study
This Massachusetts study examined the factors associated with children and adolescents getting stuck in inpatient psychiatric settings while they await appropriate placement in an alternative setting.  It was part of a larger effort to improve the system of care for children and adolescents enrolled in MassHealth, and to serve them in less restrictive settings.

Community Based Treatment Alternatives for Children (C-TAC) Feasibility Study
This study examined the feasibility of a Medicaid waiver, through a demonstration project, to fund community-based alternatives to institutional care for children with serious emotional disturbances.  It identified the potential population that could be served in the community, the available resources, and the necessary community-based services needed to serve this population.

Mental Health Services Program for Youth (MHSPY) Evaluation
MHSPY, an intensive systems of care program aimed at serving children with serious emotional disturbances, offers a comprehensive array of services and supports that are responsive to the needs and preferences of children and families using a strength-based framework. This MassHealth study examined the type of children served by the program, the services and supports they received, and whether certain characteristics predict success in the program.



Learn More

Center for Health Policy and Research
(508) 856-3124