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Delaware Children's Department wants to expand access to behavioral health for children

An African American female teenager and her parents consult with a female Caucasian doctor.
National Cancer Institute / Unsplash
The program empowers doctors to treat their patients up to age 21

The Delaware Children's Department looks to expand its fledgling program connecting pediatric care providers with behavioral healthcare resources for children.


The Delaware Child Psychiatry Access Program, or DCPAP, empowers primary care providers to help patients with behavioral health needs.


DCPAP project director Dr. Richard Margolis says the program was created to address a shortage of child psychiatrists.


“There are only about 20 percent of the child psychiatrists that we need," said Magolis. "So in order to help children get services, we are providing these consultations to pediatric offices since this is where the majority of the behavioral health services are provided nowadays because of the shortage in child psychiatry.”


Along with providing doctors free consultations with a child psychiatrist, the program offers regular trainings, webinars and other behavioral health information.


It also saves patients’ time and money by eliminating the wait for a referral to a child psychiatrist and having a child’s own doctor treat them quicker.


Mindy Webb is the behavioral health care coordinator for DC-PAP.


“One thing we’d like families to know though is about the program - so they in turn can tell their own primary care provider, here’s a resource that you can use to help me and help my child," said Webb. "So it’s the idea that having more knowledge among their providers can help to increase the resources that they in turn can get connected with.”


The project was funded by a 5 year grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration. It sought to sign up 150 practitioners in that time. Since launching in 2019, it’s brought 175 on board.


The goal now is to sign up almost all of the 840 registered pediatric doctors in Delaware.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.