FAQ: Kids' MH Interim Agreement

Susan Kas
DRW Staff Attorney

Is this a settlement agreement?

This is not a settlement agreement and does not resolve any of the claims brought in the lawsuit.  However, it is a collaborative and important first step to reform Washington’s mental health system for kids. This is an interim agreement between the parties who brought the lawsuit and the State of Washington to suspend litigation until June, 2013. During this time, the State will build the framework needed to reform its mental health service system for children and youth on Medicaid.  

What do children, youth and families get from the Interim Agreement?

This agreement says the State must build the infrastructure needed to deliver intensive mental health services to kids in the community.  While it doesn’t require that the state provide the service array the plaintiffs are seeking in this case, it creates a foundation for continued negotiations. 

The Interim Agreement provides for a different way of doing business.  The Principles agreed to by the State will guide service planning and delivery.  These include:

  • Greater solicitation and prioritization of child and family choice in mental health service planning and delivery;
  • Services take place in the home and community, to reduce out of home placements;
  • Services are culturally relevant in that the values and culture of the child and family are respected;
  • Services are unconditional, so that kids are not dropped from services unless they don’t need them anymore.

In addition, implementation of the Interim Agreement will:

  • change the way service planning occurs for many kids,
  • increase community involvement in reforming children’s mental health, and
  • provide a framework for increased coordination across child-serving systems.

Will negotiation continue during the Interim Agreement? 

Yes.  The Interim Agreement affords a break from lawsuit proceedings, where the State and DRW/NHelp/NCYL/Perkins Coie can continue collaborative work to reform Washington’s mental health system for kids.  Negotiations will continue to work toward resolving underlying claims of the litigation.

What happens at the end of the Interim Agreement?

Beginning in January 2013, the parties will return to the negotiating table to try to resolve the issues in this case.  As the Interim Agreement comes to a close in summer of 2013, both parties will report to the Court.  An analysis of where both parties are at that time will inform further legal action or settlement. 

Who are the original plaintiffs? 

Ten original named plaintiffs from across Washington State brought this case forward.  All were under age 21 and experienced significant mental health conditions including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, posttraumatic stress disorder, and depression.

These youth experienced school failures, family instability, suicide attempts, psychiatric harm, and repeated hospitalizations, institutionalization, foster care placement and criminal detention because they were unable to access intensive, home and community-based mental health supports.

Intensive home and community-based mental health supports the youth and children had been unable to obtain include intensive care coordination, one-on-one behavioral aides, therapeutic mentors and mobile crisis services. Instead the youth and children were offered services like traditional office-based talk therapy and medications which were not meeting their needs.

What is the purpose of this class action lawsuit?

The lawsuit sues the State of Washington, specifically the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), for failure to provide intensive home and community-based mental health services for youth and children on Medicaid.

Who represents the class in the lawsuit?

Disability Rights Washington, Perkins Coie, LLP, National Health Law Program and the National Center for Youth Law are co-counsel for the class in T.R. v. Dreyfus.

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