Blunt Rochester, Fitzpatrick Introduce Bills to Strengthen Mental Health Services for Children

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) introduced two bills that would help improve mental health services for children. The Children’s Mental Health Infrastructure Act and the Helping Kids Cope Act will financially support pediatric behavioral health care initiatives and community-based programs.

As mental, emotional, and behavioral health conditions continue on a sharp increase, heightened by the pandemic, we must do more to support our nation’s children and youth. These bills respond to the pediatric mental health crisis by supporting human, technological, and facility infrastructure needs.

“We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted children throughout the country. From coping with isolation, facing the difficulties of remote learning, and struggling with anxiety - we must prioritize the mental health needs of our children. The Children’s Mental Health Infrastructure Act and the Helping Kids Cope Act help provide those services and resources that are so desperately needed,” said Rep. Blunt Rochester. “Schools in Delaware are already mobilizing to provide students the mental health support they need. The Helping Kids Cope Act will help provide resources to those schools to help ensure our students thrive. ” 

“We must take proactive steps to address the mental health crisis in our country, especially for our children. The bipartisan Children’s Mental Health Infrastructure Act and the Helping Kids Cope Act will fund behavioral and mental health services in hospital, school, and community-based settings,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick.  "The children of our great nation are our future, and it is our duty to ensure that they have access to the care they need so that they can thrive and reach their full potential.”

“I commend Congresswoman Blunt Rochester for advancing important legislation to address the ongoing pediatric mental health crisis in the United States. These bills would make important down payments to expand mental health treatment capacity, evidence-based provider training, and proven models of care,” said Dr. Jennifer Pendley, Chief of Psychology, Division of Behavioral Health, Department of Pediatrics, Nemours Children’s Health, Delaware and Past President of the Society of Pediatric Psychology of the American Psychological Association.

The Children’s Mental Health Infrastructure Act will:

  • Provide funding to children’s hospitals for additional pediatric care capacity for behavioral and mental health services.

  • Support costs associated with reallocating existing resources, including converting general beds to accommodate behavioral health patients, creating new capacity for “day hospital” care, and supporting the associated costs of meeting safety standards to protect children and adolescents.

The Helping Kids Cope Act will:

  • Provide funding supporting pediatric behavioral health care integration and coordination.

  • Allow for flexibility to fund a range of community-based activities including community health workers or navigators to coordinate family access, pediatric practice integration, funding to support telehealth treatment, pediatric training for crisis response, mental and behavioral health urgent care, community-based initiatives such as school-based partnerships, and initiatives to decompress emergency departments.

  • Provide funding to support training and other workforce innovations at children’s hospitals, pediatric delivery settings, and other settings in multiple disciplines related to pediatric behavioral health.

The Children’s Mental Health Infrastructure Act and The Helping Kids Cope Care Act are supported by the Children’s Hospital Association and Nemours Children’s Hospital.

The full text of the bills can be found here & here.



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