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FYI: Parents around the nation turned at least 12,700 children over to the child welfare or juvenile justice systems in 2001 simply to get them access to mental health services, the U.S. General Accounting Office concluded in a report released yesterday. GAO stressed that its study–the first official attempt to quantify the problem–vastly underestimates the problem, as 32 states did not provide data, largely because it doesn’t exist. There is no federal system for tracking parents who give custody of their children with mental health problems to the state. Mental health care advocates pointed to several pending Congressional bills that could improve the problem, including one that would force health insurance policies to offer the same terms and conditions for mental illnesses as they do for all other health problems. [4/22/03]

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