Judge critical of Mass. mental health services for children

United States District Court Judge Michael Ponsor in the U.S. District Court in Springfield, Massachusetts
United States District Court Judge Michael Ponsor in the U.S. District Court in Springfield, Massachusetts –STEVEN G. SMITH/GLOBE STAFF

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) — A federal judge has criticized Massachusetts for being too slow to provide mental health services to low-income children.

The Boston Globe reports U.S. District Judge Michael Ponsor in Springfield rebuked the state in an order Thursday and denied its request for those services to be removed from court oversight.

The judge wrote the state has repeatedly violated its own standard of providing certain mental health treatment to seriously ill children on Medicaid within 14 days. He says thousands of children have waited weeks for services and were at risk for “devastating setbacks.”

The order came in an 18-year-old lawsuit against the state filed on behalf of 15,000 children with serious mental illnesses.

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State officials say services have improved because of the lawsuit and have been praised by advocates as successful.