Newsroom > DHHS News Release

For Immediate Release
September 27, 2016

Julie Naughton, Public Information Officer, Communications and Legislative Services, (office) 402-471-1695 or (cell) 402-405-7202,

Nebraska Medicaid Adds Behavioral Services for
At-Risk Youth

Lincoln—Nebraska Medicaid received federal approval to expand its behavioral health service array to better serve the needs of at-risk youth and their families.

The state will now cover multisystemic therapy (MST) and functional family therapy (FFT), intensive family- and community-based treatments designed to provide intensive family therapy to troubled and delinquent teens. This empowers youth in Nebraska's Medicaid program to cope with the family, peer, school, and neighborhood problems that they encounter, with the goal of preventing recidivism in the juvenile criminal justice system.

In the past, Nebraska has historically relied on out-of-home placement options for youth, many of which provide structure and supervision but struggle to impact the root of problems. The new treatments focus more attention on intensive in-home services that offer necessary support for youth and families to succeed in their own environments.

Through its research, Medicaid recognized that coverage for MST and FFT is an important component of a comprehensive evidence-based strategy to improve outcomes. The Nebraska state plan amendment approval adds multi-systemic and functional family therapies as Medicaid-covered services and ensures that eligible youth will not be restricted to a single funding stream for the services.

Within DHHS, Medicaid, Behavioral Health and Children and Family Services are working closely together, as well as with Nebraska’s Administrative Office of Probation, on the service array. MST combines cognitive behavioral therapy, behavior management training, family therapies and community psychology. For FFT, therapists work with all family members to create specific interventions looking at each individual’s unique challenges and strengths. The combination of these two services is projected to lead to improvement in outcomes for at-risk youth, reducing out-of-home placements and preventing recidivism in juvenile offenders. Families and youth will gain valuable tools and skills, build resiliency and protective factors while navigating through and overcoming complex life situations.