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OBJECTIVE: To identify models for caring for children with special health care needs (CSHCN) under the State Children's Health insurance Program (SCHIP) and to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each. DATA SOURCE: Site visits in five study States conducted in late 1999. STUDY DESIGN: Approximately 12 to 15 interviews were conducted in each site with state and local-level policymakers, program administrators, providers, and families. DATA COLLECTION: Standard protocols were used across sites to explore a range of key policy variables including eligibility, enrollment , identification, and referral of CSHCN; benefits; service delivery systems; payment mechanisms; and quality assurance and monitoring strategies. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS. Each of the study States' approaches to serving CSHCN represents one of four models: a mainstream approach , a wrap-around model, a service carve out , or a specialized system of care. Special provisions designed to enhance the coverage and accessibility of services beyond those extended to children generally can help to ensure that CSHCN enrolled in SCHIP receive comprehensive, coordinated care. CONCLUSIONS: The mainstream approach , wh ile aimed at providing comprehensive care for all children , could not identify CSHCN or monitor their care. Wrap-around models, while offering rich benefits to CSHCN, rely on providers to identify eligible children , with few referrals reported to date. Service carve outs preserve long-standing specialty systems of care for CSH CN but create challenges for care coordination . Specialized systems of care present challenges for capitation but appear to offer the most promise for comprehensive, coordinated care to CSHCN.