Kids win big in 2022 legislative session

Department news | April 21, 2022

The Washington State Legislature finished their legislative session last month and one of the biggest wins was in children’s behavioral health. The Legislature accepted, passed and funded nearly all the recommendations of the Children & Youth Behavioral Health Work Group, created in 2015 to develop recommendations for legislative action to improve children’s behavioral health care services in Washington. The final supplemental operating budget had many wins for kids’ mental health including:

  • Start-up funding for primary care clinics to build behavioral health integration for children and families
  • Funding for a two-year program for Community Health Workers for children and families in primary care
  • Funding for Strategic Plan for Kids’ Mental Health to build a coherent system of care
  • 7% Medicaid and non-Medicaid rate increase for Behavioral Health Centers
  • Grants for more behavioral health clinicians in schools
  • Behavioral health workforce/provider relief
  • Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic study
  • Bridge funding for the current CCBHCs in the state
  • Support to expand School Based Health Centers
  • Increase the prototypical school formulas for physical, social, and emotional support in schools
  • Expansion of the Perinatal WARM line
  • Funding to increase staffing for Referral Assist for Washington Families and Teens
  • Funding for Partial Hospitalization / Intensive Outpatient, crucial for building a tiered system of care and for discharges from inpatient to a lower level of care
  • Continuous eligibility for Apple Health to children ages 0-6 with income at or below 215% Federal Poverty Level
  • Provider training in the current version of 0-5 classification system of mental health and developmental disorders of infancy and early childhood
  • Update to the well child visit periodicity schedule for Apple Health to align with Bright Futures recommendations for ages <1 to 20
  • Additional funding for infant and early childhood mental health consultation

A big thank you to Kristin Houser, a member of the Children & Youth Behavioral Health Work Group and a strong supporter of our department, for compiling this list and to everyone who advocated on behalf of these important programs.