Over the last six years, ensuring that children and families have access to behavioral health services has been a central public health priority for Georgia policymakers. While Georgia has made progress in that time, it remains that about 43 percent, or approximately two out of five children, were unable to access the mental health services they needed.
One of the most apparent barriers to accessing this care is the limited number of behavioral health providers practicing in the state. Forty-five counties in Georgia have neither a licensed psychologist nor a licensed social worker. Moreover, among practicing behavioral health professionals, levels of quality and cultural competency vary greatly, particularly among those practitioners accepting insurance – public and private. Voices for Georgia’s Children’s (Voices) 2017 Analysis of Georgia’s Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Workforce found that a critical pain point for emerging behavioral health professionals, and possibly a major contributor to workforce shortages and turnover, is a lack of access to clinical supervision that effectively supplements their academic learnings, allows them to attain and maintain licensure, and assists them in translating theory into practice. Additionally, despite the known impact of providers’ cultural competency on the outcomes of their behavioral health clients, cultural competency training is not a standard requirement for acquiring or maintaining licensure in Georgia.
In order to identify potential solutions, Voices conducted key informant interviews with a diverse sample of behavioral health provider agencies to explore clinical supervision models and ways providers can support and retain emerging professionals through supervision and other related policies.