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November 26, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Saving the children at Childhaven

Cheryl Mason and her husband John (older couple on bottom row)  adopted seven children who came to them as foster children receiving services at Childhaven. Their children are now successful adults starting their own families, underscoring Childhaven's powerful role helping abused or neglected children grow into healthy adults. (Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times)

Cheryl Mason and her husband John (older couple on bottom row) adopted seven children who came to them as foster children receiving services at Childhaven. Their children are now successful adults starting their own families, underscoring Childhaven’s powerful role helping abused or neglected children grow into healthy adults.
(Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times)

Many in philanthropy and social services were caught off guard by federal Medicaid officials recent decision to cut off funding to Childhaven, which provides child care and therapy for abused and neglected children. Childhaven would lose $4 million a year, the combined total of the 50-50 match between state and federal Medicaid dollars — nearly half its revenue. Federal officials should reconsider.

As Times reporter Kyung Song wrote Sunday, the majority of Childhaven’s children are eligible for Medicaid because they have conditions recognized in mental-disorder manuals. Taxpayers have long paid for part of their care through fixed daily reimbursements totaling more than $19,000 a year per child.

Federal officials point out many concerns, including therapy provided by teachers who are not licensed clinicians and Childhaven’s location only in King County, rather than accessible statewide, as required under federal Medicaid rules.

Washington state is right to pick up the tab while this is sorted out. The basic role of government is to provide for those who cannot do so for themselves. It is a principle worth our tax dollars. Private charity, though generous and powerful in the Pacific Northwest, cannot match the heft of government. Moreover, charity is not consistent. We give until we don’t. Government’s safety net is both strong and consistent.

“Any society, any nation, is judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members — the last, the least, the littlest.” ~Cardinal Roger Mahony, In a 1998 letter, “Creating a Culture of Life.”

Comments | Topics: child abuse, children, Education

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