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The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has agreed to settle a 2018 lawsuit filed by families who say their children were not provided adequate treatment for significant mental health issues.
The parties signed an interim settlement agreement in August and are now developing a plan to improve mental and behavioral health care for Michigan children who are enrolled in Medicaid and part of the child welfare system.
Michigan families continue to face hurdles getting mental care for children during crises, said Kyle Williams, Disability Rights Michigan director of litigation. He referred to a recent viral video in which a central Michigan father pleaded for help finding a psychiatric bed for his teenage son, who had spent over a week in an emergency room.
“It’s a story we hear with some regularity,” he said. “Kids are having a crisis, they don’t have what they need in order to support them in their home or support them in their community. Parents are left with two choices: you can take them to an emergency room or you can call the police.”
Williams is a lead attorney in the case, K.B. v. Lyon.
A central goal of the families involved in the lawsuit is to ensure kids have ready access to mental health treatment at home or in their communities, he said, instead of relying on jails, emergency rooms or psychiatric hospitals.