Washington State Family to Family Health Information Center

Newsletter #31 – September 2023 

Apple Health Changes for Children Under Six

In April 2023, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approved Washington’s 1115 Waiver request.  This extends eligibility for Medicaid (also known as Apple Health) to all children in Washington under the age of six.

Children under the age of six on free Apple Health will now receive continuous eligibility through their sixth birthday, regardless of changes in household income, if they were eligible in the month of application.  Changes to income or household changes still need to be reported, however.

In June 2023, the Health Care Authority began work to maintain continuous eligibility for children under the age of six. A manual process is in place to identify eligible children who have lost coverage and reinstate them. After the manual changes have been completed, children who are active on free Apple Health will have their certification period automatically extended through the month that they turn six.

Respite Options for Children and Youth with Behavioral and Mental Health Issues

Taking a break from caring for a child or youth who has behavioral health problems can be extremely difficult.  Helping a young person dealing with issues such as anxiety, ODD, depression, or psychosis, can be a full-time job.  Yet stepping away and taking a short break from any job in important. These short breaks, called respite, are often critical to the well-being of the caregiver and the care recipient alike. While supports for behavioral health respite are meager in the state of Washington, here are some respite providers and suggestions that may help.

There are a few respite providers that specialize in helping young people with behavioral health issues with traditional therapy methods.  They including Adaptive Life Coaches in Whatcom County, Community Care in Seattle, and Hopeful Hands in Edmonds. Equine therapy  is available for children and youth at Alatheia Therapeutic Riding Center in Wenatchee, Empowering Strides in Woodinville, and TROT in Kennewick. Music therapy is an often-overlooked option.  Providers for this kind of respite include Ted Brown Music Outreach in Tacoma, Music Works in Bellevue, and Life on Music in Seattle.  For more physical play,  We Rock the Spectrum Gym in Federal Way and the Seattle PlayGarden are available, yet give limited respite options.

Some of the Medicaid waiver programs include behavioral health respite, including the CORE waiver.  For families on these waivers, talk to the managing agencies (DDA or ALTSA) to find respite services.  For families receiving WISe services, behavioral health respite services may also be available. The WISe team will have more information or ideas for alternatives if local respite options are not available.

Families that include young people with behavioral health issues can benefit from engaging with other families in similar situations. Not only will these other families have recommendations, but often offer each other an informal type of respite.  Families that know each other well and have learned to deal with behavioral health problems can be used to take care of children when a short break is needed.  Check with your local behavioral health provider or visit NAMI to start attending support groups and meet other behavioral health caregivers.

September 2023 Calendar

All events are free on-line unless noted

 People First of Washington Convention in Ellensburg ($) – Sept. 8-10

Calling Autistic Parents in Seattle – Sept. 10

Una Serie Especial de Radio en Espanol de Kindering – Sept. 12

Special Education Virtual Training – Sept. 14

Sharing Mental Health Information in Your Family – Sept. 18

WSCC Parent/Caregiver Weekend in Wenatchee – Sept. 22-24

Children’s Behavioral Health Family Network Meeting – Sept. 25

Relatives as Parents Program in Shoreline – Sept. 26

Applying For Guardianship in Kitsap County – Sept. 26

Telling Your Story with a Purpose – Sept. 28

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