A panel formed to address the mental health needs of child sexual assault victims is recommending that the state recruit two psychiatrists to serve Sussex County.
In an eight-page report released Monday, the panel, formed in the wake of the pedophilia scandal involving former Lewes pediatrician Earl Bradley, also recommended that the Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services and other state agencies do more to address the mental health needs of Hispanic children.
"Prevention and treatment services for that population can be challenging because of the language barrier," said Lt. Gov. Matt Denn, chairman of the study group.
The report also recommends monitoring the demand for mental health services in Kent and Sussex counties in order to respond properly in case other victims of Bradley come forward.
"Because of extraordinary diligence by law enforcement authorities, prosecutors and health care providers, it appears that currently-known victims of Dr. Bradley are receiving appropriate and timely treatment
," the report stated. "However, it is impossible to know precisely how many of Dr. Bradley's victims have yet to report their abuse
, and the division believes that over time, the number of post-traumatic stress and substance abuse cases arising specifically from Dr. Bradley's abuse could increase dramatically
The panel recommended that the two child psychiatrists recruited for Sussex County, with an emphasis on serving the rural western part of the county, be willing to practice in consultation with family doctors and pediatricians, rather than providing all services in a one-on-one manner.
It also suggested that state officials review mental health provider networks under private insurance plans to ensure that they can adequately meet children's needs.
"There was some feeling on the part of some of the task force members that the reimbursement being paid by some of our insurance provider were not adequate," Denn noted.
Other recommendations by the panel include centralized case management for child victims of trauma, and additional training for child mental health professionals in dealing with children who are victims of trauma but whose symptoms fall below the threshold for post-traumatic stress disorder. Denn said better early intervention in those cases could help ward off more serious problems in the future.
The report will be submitted to Gov. Jack Markell and legislative leaders in the General Assembly for their consideration.