New federal funds could boost Georgia’s mental health care for toddlers

“Dallas Rabig, state coordinator for infant and early childhood mental health, walked the group through the creation of an umbrella agency called First 5 Alabama.

It started with a grant that paid for hiring Rabig, who worked with the University of Alabama to create a model. Early intervention pilot sites were established in 2015, through home visits, Pre-K and daycare settings. Pediatricians were added this year.Rabig said First Five Alabama — a partnership of state agencies and nonprofits — “opened the door for discussion with Alabama Medicaid about possible billing practices and policy changes.” That led to more grants, used to build on their successes and participate in multi-state initiatives.

The Alabama legislature is putting $500,000 in the pot next year, and Rabig said they’re well-positioned to make use of Family First Title IV E funds.

[Representative] Dempsey said she hopes the study committee’s report helps state agencies and lawmakers determine a viable path forward.

“I was quite impressed with Alabama and what they’ve done in their five years … If Alabama and our other neighbors can do this, we can too,” she said.