A N   E N Q U I R E R   S P E C I A L   R E P O R T
Mentally ill children in Ohio are abused by the system: Care is hard to find, often wretched, and so costly some parents give up their kids to get government help.

Mental illness, chaotic care

Lauren Mathews
Desperate bargain: custody for care
In the past three years, Ohio parents who've run out of insurance or money have given up custody of as many as 1,800 children so the government will pay to treat their mental illness, the Enquirer has found. Even then, kids don't always get needed help.
Parents give up kids as last resort
Photo gallery of one child
Three families, many struggles
For their mentally ill children, families battle lack of good care, lack of money and a government that is too overwhelmed to do enough.
Mikolic Wertepny Wissler Mouseover or click on one of the pictures at right to find out about that family.
Abused, drugged and unprotected
Taxpayers shell out $160 to $1,000 a day for each mentally ill child who lives in private treatment centers. But a Cincinnati Enquirer investigation reveals that kids don't always get the help they're promised. Some struggle just to survive.
Mentally ill children suffer in state-paid treatment centers
Officials: System has room for waste
Help, take it or leave it
As Erica Groden starved herself, Summit County offered to send her for treatment - to the one place her mother feared most, a Cleveland center where six workers had just been indicted on sex abuse charges. Read Erica's story
Erica Groden
Cases swamp Children's Hospital
The number of mentally ill children in crisis is at record levels in Greater Cincinnati, with more mentally ill children admitted to the psychiatric unit at Children's Hospital Medical Center than to any similar hospital in the country in 2002. Read more...
Obstacles to reform: big costs, big interests
Insurance policies typically cover no more than 20 or 30 days of treatment a year for schizophrenia or other mental illnesses. Doctors and others say that's unfair - and emotionally and financially devastating to families with mentally ill children.
What are we going to do about mentally ill kids?
Activist finds change overdue
YOUR THOUGHTS
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FROM THE TOP
Gov. Bob Taft acknowledges that Ohio's mental health system doesn't work for thousands of families.
See what else he says

IN KENTUCKY
Kentucky parents turned over at least 14 children to the state in 2001, a General Accounting Office report found. State officials haven't tracked the last two years, but say the practice still occurs. More...

GETTING HELP
If your mentally ill child is in crisis, officials advise you to go to you nearest E.R. or call one of these numbers.

ABOUT THE SERIES
Enquirer reporters Debra Jasper and Spencer Hunt and photographer Michael E. Keating spent months interviewing people with mental illness, their families, advocates and officials. They also reviewed thousands of pages of records and inspection reports. E-mail djasper@enquirer.com, shunt@enquirer.com or mkeating@enquirer.com.