The Only Way to Get Youth Mental Health Help For My Child Is To Make Him A Criminal

Lewis was born prematurely at 29 weeks and entered foster care with two older siblings shortly after being released from the NICU due to parental drug use and homelessness.

He was adopted by his foster parents at 18 months and his siblings were adopted by another family. Lewis did not qualify for adoption subsidy benefits due to being under the age of three. He was put onto his adoptive parents’ private insurance (BC/BS).

He has been diagnosed at a young age with ADHD, ODD, disruptive behavior disorder and sensory processing disorder. Lewis also has a history of violence directed mostly at close family members. He has struggled with behavioral and emotional issues for much of his childhood.

Lewis has had long-term psychiatric care and a long-term therapist. He has participated in Occupational therapy, neurofeedback, EMDR and music therapy.

Lewis is currently 15 years old and in the ninth grade. His negative behaviors at home and at school have increased dramatically and affecting his overall quality of life. Currently, he has missed 32 days of school 15 days due to suspensions. He has had 3 days of in-school suspension as well. He has had two fights at school or on school property, one of which could/should have resulted in assault charges being filed (the parents of the other child decided not to press charges).

He has also been suspended for not complying with school staff and using vulgar language toward staff. He failed all core classes in the first semester and is currently failing all this semester.

Lewis refuses to comply with normal, safe requests at home, which makes day-to-day living very difficult for all involved. He has refused Psychiatrist appointments (Virtual), well-child Doctor visits, and routine eye appointments. Therapy appointments were stopped due to aggressive behavior en route to the appointments and refusal to go.

I have been trained in several parenting / therapeutic models and use those regularly. As his parent I believe in home therapy and CLS services would be highly beneficial for him and help him to function in a normal environment.

Our private insurance will not cover the cost of in-home services. Even if they did, there are no in-home services available to children who do not receive Medicaid. I have applied for a SED Waiver for him twice in the last year which would make him eligible for these services and have been denied both times.

The last time I was denied Network 180 told me to allow him to be arrested and enter the juvenile justice system–then he would qualify. This statement took my breath away, as a parent I would like to find proactive services and help my child to keep him out of the justice system!

They also noted that he seems to have behavioral issues as opposed to mental health issues. Are these not one and the same? What am I missing?

As his parent, I feel like I know best what might help Lewis to be successful and it is defeating to know it is not available to him. I would like to see youth Mental Health and Behavioral Health services available to all children and families regardless of what insurance they are covered by as the children are our future!

In addition to my own experience, I also work for Adoptive Family Support Network and support families who have adopted and see parents struggling with the youth mental health system regularly.