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The District’s public behavioral health system, which encompasses mental health and substance use treatment, needs a new path forward. The system fails to provide timely, accessible, high quality, culturally appropriate, or affordable care to thousands of children who need it – with devastating consequences. This report, A Path Forward: Transforming the Public Behavioral Health System for Children, Youth, and their Families in the District of Columbia, is a blueprint for creating a successful public behavioral health system, one that supports children and families and, in doing so, strengthens our entire community.

The recommendations in this report build on the commitment shown by DC government leaders and is informed by the expertise and experiences of youth, parents, experts, and best practices from across the country.

Explore the report’s recommendations:

Strengthening Families Coalition

The Strengthening Families Through Behavioral Health Coalition brings together a diverse group of advocates focused on education, juvenile justice, child welfare, and health, as well as representatives of the provider community and community-based organizations, to advance policies and practices that improve DC’s behavioral health system for children and families.

Learn about the Coalition

Find more resources related to children’s behavioral health in DC:

This report was made possible with support from the Bainum Family Foundation, A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation, and J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation, with significant contributions of staff time and resources from Children’s Law Center (CLC), Children’s National Hospital (CNH), the District of Columbia Behavioral Health Association (DCBHA), Early Childhood Innovation Network (ECIN), MedStar Georgetown University Hospital (MGUH) Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Parent Watch, and Total Family Care Coalition (TFCC).

Logos for organizations that contributed to the Path Forward report: Children's Law Center, Children's National, District of Columbia Behavioral Health Association, Early Childhood Innovation Network, Health Alliance Network, Medstar Georgetown University Hospital Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Parent Watch, Total Family Care Coalition.

For questions or report updates, contact PathForwardDC [at]