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YES Program helps families afford mental health services for kids

September is National Recovery Month, a time to raise awareness of mental illness and addiction disorders. One mental health program in Idaho is relatively unknown.

“It seems about once a week I’m speaking to a parent whose child may be losing Medicaid or losing private insurance or maybe their underinsured, and this program is really designed to fill the gaps to make sure no child is left behind in their mental health treatment,” said Ric Boyce, the director of Mental Health Specialists in Pocatello.

The Youth Empowerment Services, or the ‘YES’ program, allows families who previously couldn’t afford mental health care services for their children to enroll in Medicaid and get the help they need.

The program is run through the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

“With Youth Empowerment Services and with help from Children’s Mental Health, we can find the treatment. Don’t keep your kid out of treatment because you’re worried about paying for it, we’ll work with them on that,” said Kyle Hanson, the chief of Children’s Mental Health in Pocatello.

To qualify for the YES program, the child needs to have what officials call a ‘serious emotional disturbance,’ which isn’t as daunting as it may sound.

“That can be anxiety, that can be some depression. We’re not talking extremely severe things, we’re talking about any kind of mental health need that is impacting at least a couple areas of life,” Boyce said.

Liberty Health Care (LHC) offers free, at home assessments for families who think they might qualify, but there are ways to make that process easier. Boyce said that providing previous medical records to LHC can help streamline the process of the assessment.

By using the YES program, parents that already have health insurance can still minimize the financial burden of high deductibles.

To be financially eligible for the program, a household income has to be within 300 percent of the federal poverty line. To find out if you’re within the qualifying income level, click here.

“If they’re over 300 percent, if they don’t qualify for Youth Empowerment Services, they are referred to Children’s Mental Health and we still connect them to resources, whether that’s an intern that doesn’t charge or a sliding fee scale. We’ll find them resources if they don’t qualify for ‘YES,'” said Hanson.

Idaho consistently ranks as one of the least funded states for mental health care, but Boyce said this program is a step towards providing more comprehensive mental health care to Idahoans.

For more information about the YES program, click here.

To find out how to get started in the YES program, click here or call Liberty Health Care at 1-877-305-3469 to schedule an assessment.

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