Budget Cuts Force Higher Fees for Cuidar’s ADHD Services for Parents

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Orange County’s leading resource for low-income parents of young children with symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) will raise its rates dramatically in anticipation of future state budget cuts.

Cuidar, a nonprofit that operates from UC Irvine, will begin charging $150 this month for several weeks of parent education for coping with children exhibiting ADHD symptoms. The organization used to charge $20 for the classes, which seek to reverse problem behavior early on and avoid the need for expensive medical and educational resources.

School nurses in low-income, Spanish-speaking communities have indicated to Cuidar that the new fee is too high for many families. “What they’re saying is we will not be able to serve those populations,” said Brett Pattersby, a psychologist with Cuidar.

July enrollment at the new fee rate is unusually low, he said. But Cuidar, funded by the Children & Families Commission of Orange County, must move to a fee-for-service model to remain viable. In June, the commission saved Cuidar from a $250,000 cutback, nearly half of Cuidar’s total budget, but stipulated that the money be directed to making Cuidar self-sustaining in two years.

“Our mission is to be able to serve anybody, but we can’t do that unless we continue to exist,” Pattersby said. “We’ve had to allocate money to marketing and branding … and making sure the ship stays afloat in two years.”

Meanwhile, Cuidar will try to make its services available to low-income parents, possibly by establishing scholarships and contracting with health insurers. One problem is that families prefer getting help in an educational setting rather than in therapy, while insurers don’t typically cover health education.

Research shows that ADHD affects one in 10 children nationwide.

— AMY DePAUL

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