Greetings HRSA Autism CARES Grantees!

April 20, 2020

Through this issue of Developments, we highlight a MCHB-supported program with important connections to Autism CARES grantees - the Pediatric Mental Health Care Access (PMHCA) program.  Before we do, we want to take a moment to acknowledge the tremendous work that Autism CARES grantees are doing in extraordinary and challenging times.  You swiftly transformed coursework, clinical care and research opportunities to virtual mechanisms, you are testing new and innovative ways to conduct your work, and importantly you are striving to assure the health and well-being of the children and youth and their families that you serve.  We are grateful for all of your efforts. 

MCHB supports 21 PMHCA grants in state agencies around the United States to promote behavioral health integration into pediatric primary care using telehealth. State or regional networks of pediatric mental health teams provide tele-consultation, training, technical assistance, and care coordination for pediatric primary care providers to diagnose, treat and refer children with behavioral health conditions.

The overarching goal of the program is to use telehealth modalities to provide timely detection, assessment, treatment, and referral of children and adolescents with behavioral health conditions, using evidence-based practices and methods in web-based education and training sessions.  A major reason for provider contact with pediatric mental health care access teams is for psychiatric consultation and training on addressing behavioral health needs of children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  MCHB is collecting data from projects on the reasons for provider contact with pediatric mental health care access teams for the PMHCA program evaluation.

Several PMHCA projects are integrating ASD into their training and teleconsultation activities, including:

  • Participating in Project ECHO autism projects
  • Developing a consultation workflow for autism
  • Providing guidance to providers on how to use the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) during well-child visits
  • Assessing for increase in the proportion of children diagnosed with ASD who are referred to appropriate services (i.e., speech, occupational or behavioral therapy).        

To learn more about the PMHCA program and its projects, please visit the program's web page on the HRSA Division of Maternal and Child Health Workforce Development web site. 

Now that you know a little more about the PMHCA program and how projects intersect with ASD, we hope to foster dialogue and collaboration between PMHCA awardees and Autism CARES grantees, share effective practices, and discuss emerging issues.  There already are instances where DBP and LEND faculty members are involved in the clinical, training, and evaluative aspects of PMHCA projects. 

Thank you for the work that you do every day to promote the health and well-being of children and youth with ASD, other developmental disabilities, and behavioral health conditions.  We look forward to engaging with you in the coming months.  Please take good care.



Lauren and Madhavi


Lauren Raskin Ramos, MPH
Director, Division of MCH Workforce Development
Maternal and Child Health Bureau


Madhavi Reddy, MSPH
Senior Public Health Analyst, Division of MCH Workforce Development
Maternal and Child Health Bureau