In most parts of Wisconsin there are not enough mental health providers to serve every child who could benefit from mental health or behavioral health services. This means that families may have to wait before their child can be evaluated or be seen by a mental health or behavior health provider.
What Can Families Do While Waiting for Services?
While waiting for formal services can be frustrating, parents/caregivers can be actively involved in finding programs and informal services. You can also advocate for your child and do what you can to get your child off the wait list. Below are some ideas for families as they wait:
If you are waiting for an appointment, ask if you can be put on a cancellation list. You should also call back regularly to see where your child is on the wait list. If you are waiting for private therapy, ask about other options like group therapy or support groups.
Talk to your child’s school social worker or school nurse about incorporating some supports into the school day. A child’s school/school district may be able to find a behavioral consultant who can work with your child and their teacher during the school day.
Look for supports in your community that can help you and your child while you wait for more formal therapy services. The Regional Centers for Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs – dhs.wisconsin.gov/cyshcn/regionalcenters.htm – or Wisconsin Family Ties – wifamilyties.org – can help you find local groups and supports.
Connect with your County Human Services Department – dhs.wisconsin.gov/areaadmin/hsd-programs.htm – to learn about county-based supports including “wraparound” services or contact Well Badger Resource Center – wellbadger.org – at 1-800-642-7837.
Connect with other families either in person or online. Other families can share their experiences and help you learn about resources, providers and programs. Parent to Parent of WI (P2P) – p2pwi.org – is a statewide program that matches families who have a child with similar needs or who live in the same area.
Connect with Mental Health Organizations
These organizations can provide assistance and connect you with resources, local groups and events. Examples include:
NAMI Wisconsin – namiwisconsin.org or 800.236.2988
Mental Health America of WI – mhawisconsin.org or 866.948.6483
Connect with Family Support Organizations
These organizations are staffed by parents/family members who have children with special needs. They can help you learn about trainings, conferences and listservs so you can stay informed and educated about programs and services for children with special needs.
Wisconsin Family Ties at 800.422.7145 has information and referral specialists as well as parent peer specialists who can meet with a family and provide one-on-one support.
Parent to Parent of WI (P2P) at 833.361.6300 connects parents 1-on-1 who have children with similar conditions or live in the same area. Parent matches can be shortterm (a few phone calls) or long-term relationships.
WI FACETS at 877.374.0511 provides one on one help, telephone training workshops and resources for families related to a child’s education.
Family Voices of Wisconsin at 608.220.9598 hosts face-to-face and online training sessions to help families learn about insurance coverage, health care and community supports and services.