SAMHSA FY 2013 Budget Proposal - Not a Good Day for Children's Mental Health

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The SAMHSA budget proposal (Budget in Brief / Full Budget) is out and the news for children's mental health services and the Child Mental Health Initiative (CMHI)  is not good - The proposal calls for a 29 million dollar reduction in funding for 2013. This "savings" would be achieved through grants "coming to a natural end." This is chilling language for many reasons, which I will detail below. But for those who want to cut to the chase, here are three key points for you to share with SAMHSA and your elected representatives. Sure, there are more, but let's start with these three:

Making sense of it all...

Okay, now for the background, which I strongly encourage you to read. First, let's recap the rationalization for SAMHSA choosing the approach they are taking as we understand it from reading the Budget Proposal. There are three primary strategic premises in SAMHSA's approach:

Okay, got it. Makes sense, right? You give competitive grants, develop robust evaluation to test out the treatment interventions to see what works and then leverage state and tribal funding mechanisms to foster widespread implementation of proven practices. Perfect, right? In fact, the Child Mental Health Initiative (CMHI) is a great example of this very approach and in many ways is a flagship example of the importance of ensuring that the values and principles of a system of care approach drive implementation efforts.

So why should this budget proposal be a concern to us? Shouldn't we be celebrating the fact that the CMHI has done what it said it would do? Shouldn't we be rejoicing in the "natural ending" of a successful evaluation rich initiative? Well, no we should not - and here is why:

However, SAMHSA is in a difficult position and needs our support. Cuts have to come from somewhere, that much we know. The questions we need to ask ourselves as children's mental health advocates are simple:

If the answer is yes, then we are all set - victory is ours. If the answer is no, we have much work to do. I think the answer is no. So here is some homework for all of us:

What do we do next?

So, what next? Here are three key points for you to share with SAMHSA and your elected representatives. Again, there are more, but let's start with these three:

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