Contractor Looks for Ideas to Change Kids' Mental Health Care in Maine

By Eichacker, Charles | Bangor Daily News (Bangor, ME), November 9, 2018 | Go to article overview

Contractor Looks for Ideas to Change Kids' Mental Health Care in Maine


Eichacker, Charles, Bangor Daily News (Bangor, ME)


A private consulting firm has been holding town hall-style meetings across the state in recent weeks as it reviews problems with the mental health services that Maine children receive and drafts recommendations for improving them.

The LePage administration hired the firm, Public Consulting Group, late last summer at an estimated cost of $213,319 in response to numerous problems, according to a copy of its contract obtained by the Bangor Daily News.

The contract names several issues that Boston-based Public Consulting Group is meant to review, including a lack of service providers in rural areas, providers who don't accept children with certain levels of need, children who must wait for services and families who must pay more as a result of the inefficiency.

At one session in Bangor on Thursday, representatives for the firm presented 20 preliminary recommendations for addressing the problems and sought feedback from the 35 or so attendees. The audience included parents, children's advocates and service providers.

Among the draft recommendations were that the state should require comprehensive evaluations of children who need intensive services, that providers in cities should share their knowledge and resources with those in surrounding rural areas, that regional groups should be formed to review difficult cases and that the state should push to address shortages in the health care workforce.

[Hundreds of children wait for mental health help, even after Maine pledged to follow the law]

One of the more controversial recommendations was that the state consider performance-based contracts for service providers, in which the amount of funding they receive could depend on how well they meet certain standards.

One audience member suggested it could lead to providers deliberately not taking clients who are more difficult to treat. Another unfavorably compared that approach to the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act, which sanctioned schools whose students didn't meet standards in math and reading.

But the facilitators from Public Consulting Group, Gabriela Feliu-Markiewicz and Jennifer MacBlane, stressed the recommendations were not final and could be removed or revised before their report is complete, maybe in mid-December.

"Duly noted," MacBlane said, after hearing the comments about the performance-based proposal. "We have a good idea of the concerns."

They said they would accept comments after the meeting was over, hung printed versions of the recommendations on the walls and handed out green stickers that attendees could stick on specific recommendations to show their support. …

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Contractor Looks for Ideas to Change Kids' Mental Health Care in Maine
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