HLA’s Children’s Mental Health Access Project fights to defeat pernicious barriers to mental health and substance use treatment for children. Our attorneys provide vigorous representation to families with children denied access to needed services. We counsel them on their options and legal rights and advocate on their behalf within the mental health and justice systems. HLA also empowers families and advocates through trainings and publications describing how to navigate the rough terrain of our children’s mental health system. Another major aspect of our work is advocating for policy reforms to make the system more responsive to families' needs. Under our Children’s Mental Health Access Project are three distinct initiatives or cross-overs with other HLA projects. 

Health Care Justice in the Juvenile Courts

Health Care Justice in the Juvenile Courts from Sugarhouse Media on Vimeo.


Mental Health Advocacy Program for Kids (MHAP 4 Kids)

Many children in, or at risk of entering, our juvenile justice system end up there because of unmet mental health needs. HLA’s Mental Health Advocacy Program for Kids (MHAP for Kids) has a proven track record of significantly improving the lives of these children and their families while reducing unnecessary costs for the state.

To learn more about MHAP for Kids, click here.

Mental Health Parity for Children

HLA’s Mental Health and Substance Parity Initiative has a particular focus on rooting out discriminatory health insurance practices impacting children with behavioral health challenges. Securing insurance coverage for children’s mental health and substance use services poses unique challenges because children use different behavioral health services than adults. HLA’s Children’s Mental Health Access Project and our Parity Initiative combine to help children unfairly denied insurance coverage for mental health and addiction services. We are grateful for the Nord Family Foundation’s and Boston Children’s Hospital’s support of this program.

Children's Mental Health Campaign

HLA is also a founding and executive committee member of the Children’s Mental Health Campaign, a statewide coalition of families, providers, advocates and educators dedicated to advancing public policies that improve behavioral health care for children. HLA’s fellow executive committee members on the Campaign are Boston Children’s Hospital, Health Care For All, the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health, and the Parent Professional Advocacy League. The Campaign has more than 130 supporting organizations.