A key challenge in understanding state policies in children’s mental health is determining what problems the state is addressing and which populations will have priority. And it is not always easy to assess what the agenda is and which children will benefit.
A strategy for sorting through the complex diversity that characterizes the 50 state-level child mental health programs may be an approach that looks for the “bright spots" where policy has worked and children have been served. Perhaps the most useful question to pose is: What intervention or activity has some state undertaken that seems to improve the circumstances of a particular population or problem? And can information about those promising interventions be collected and brought to the attention of other interested parties?
As indicated in this paper, there are bright spots in most of the 11 states that were interviewed. This summary of what researchers have learned about publically-funded children's mental health services is intended both to underscore the diversity found among the 11 states but also to highlight the promising practices and 'lessons learned' from these state examples.