Children’s Rights, Disability Rights New York, National Health Law Program (NHeLP), and Proskauer Rose LLP filed C.K. v Bassett in 2022 against the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and New York State Office of Mental Health (NYSOMH) for denying Medicaid-eligible children their legal right to community-based mental health services.
The complaint alleges that despite federal laws requiring mental health services be available and provided to the State’s Medicaid children and youth, New York administers an inadequate, inaccessible, and dysfunctional mental health system for children and youth. The complaint further notes that the impact falls disproportionately on youth from low-income families and children of color, who already face myriad struggles that harm their mental health, including racial discrimination. Nationally, the rate of Black youth suicide is increasing faster than any other racial or ethnic group.
Without intensive services in their homes and communities, children with mental health disabilities are unnecessarily placed in psychiatric hospitals and similar institutions for extended periods, where they are separated from their families and communities and their conditions continue to decline.
The case was brought to ensure children receive timely and appropriate mental health care while in their communities and remaining at home with their families.
One of the children named in the case is 15-year-old C.K. He loves animals, playing video games, and watching football. He fantasizes about winning the lottery and opening a center for young children with mental illness. But his own mental health needs continue to go unmet.For years C.K. has been in and out of hospitals, emergency rooms, and residential institutions instead of getting the community and home care most likely to make a difference. Today, he thinks about suicide and is at risk of being institutionalized again.
A.T., another child named in the case, is 13-years-old. She is passionate about the arts and enjoys drawing, dancing, and gymnastics, and like most kids, has big dreams for her future.But for the last decade, she has cycled in and out of emergency rooms and psychiatric hospitals, received over ten different mental health diagnoses, and has been prescribed several psychotropic medications.A.T. had languished in a psychiatric residential hospital for nearly two years.