Clark County has agreed to fill a funding gap for more than 100 therapeutic foster care children who are waiting to receive behavioral health assessments.
County commissioners on Tuesday voted to pay almost $73 a day for each child so they are not displaced from their current foster homes. That’s in addition to the $62 a day the county gives for each of the total 450 or so children enrolled in the specialized foster care program.
Most of the money pays foster care agencies that assist foster parents with caring for children with serious physical, mental or emotional issues.
“Without this gap funding, providers would essentially go out of business and have to close their doors,” said Dave Doyle, operations director of the Eagle Quest foster care agency.
If that happens, Doyle said children could be relocated to psychiatric hospitals or the Child Haven emergency shelter.
Typically the $73 a day is billable to Nevada Medicaid under the basic skills training program, but the state will not pay until the children receive new behavioral health assessments.
Jill Marano, assistant director of the county Family Services Department, said the backlog of children needing assessments was created on July 27 when the state stopped recognizing assessments performed by agencies like Eagle Quest. Now all assessments for Medicaid-billable services must be performed by independent medical providers.
One hundred independent assessments had been completed as of Tuesday, Marano said. About 123 children in foster homes still needed new assessments.
Marano said children who are new to the specialized foster care system are receiving assessments first.
“Those are the kids we’re prioritizing because those are the kids in immediate need of a family-based placement. The other kids are in a family-based placement,” she said.
Marano said the county has increased the number of independent medical providers it is referring assessments to from two to five to speed up the process, and Assistant County Manager Kevin Schiller said the county is making referrals as fast as it can.
But one of the first companies to perform assessments says they are being underused. FirstMed Health and Wellness CEO Angela Quinn said her staff receives two to three children to assess each day.
“I’ve got therapists standing by,” Quinn said. “I could double, if not triple, the amount of assessments I was doing if the referrals were coming.”