COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) — Gov. Mike DeWine announced the official launch of Ohio Resilience through Integrated Systems and Excellence (OhioRISE), a new Ohio Medicaid specialized managed care behavioral health program for young people with the most complex needs.

Nearly 5,500 children and youth can access services immediately, according to a July 1 release.

“OhioRISE offers hope for thousands of Ohio families who have long struggled to find help for their children; it enables us to coordinate the care and services for at-risk kids, to better meet their emotional, behavioral, and physical needs, ” Gov. DeWine said.

“This program will help participating children build lasting skills to ensure their long-term success.”

OhioRISE builds on work the administration began in 2019 that has helped more than 800 families obtain care and avoid the possibility of giving up their child to a children’s services agency, the release states.

“Today’s launch of OhioRISE has been years in the making and symbolizes a new era of hope for Ohio families who have struggled to find the care their child desperately needs,” Ohio Department of Medicaid Director Maureen Corcoran said.

“Though we are just beginning, OhioRISE is our commitment to every family in every community throughout the state, to have access to dedicated, behavioral health resources and a team of experts who will assemble and coordinate local supports for our children who need it most.”

Through a partnership with Aetna Better Health of Ohio, Medicaid’s OhioRISE program addresses longstanding gaps in care and coordination that often result in families having to navigate complex, often siloed systems on their own. In the most unfortunate circumstances, these gaps and lack of coordination have resulted in families relinquishing custody of their child so they can access much-needed behavioral healthcare services.

“Eight years ago, my family was in crisis. My wife and I were forced to surrender custody of our son Andrew to access necessary treatment for his extreme behavioral health needs caused by Autism and several mental illnesses. My story is not unique. Ohio Parents of multisystem youth have faced similar agonizing choices for decades,” Mark Butler, a parent, said.

“OhioRISE represents a new day for our state; the program would have helped us access the care Andrew needed without us surrendering custody of our child. Tonight, a family will be spared the trauma we endured while getting the help they need.”

OhioRISE is expected to grow and expand access to care in its first year. By the end of year one, Ohio Medicaid expects to enroll up to 50,000 children and youth with new, specialized services and support, according to the release.

Families interested in learning about eligibility should contact the OhioRISE Member Hotline at 833-711-0773.