There is so much to be said about the 2014 - 2015 Uniform Application for the Mental Health Block Grant and Substance Abuse Block Grant that it is hard to know where to begin. Which is why we have decided to keep our comments to SAMHSA simple and to the point. The bulk of the recommendations come from our commentary about a month ago. The biggest addition to the original set of recommendations is the first bullet which calls for transparency in the block grant planning process. Yes, the block grant requires some of this already but we have heard too many accounts from Network faithful across the country who tell us repeatedly that it is very difficult to find out how the process works and who is involved. Basically, we want to add a little Texas Pete to help make the process accessible to all.
Here is what we are suggesting SAMHSA include. You can download our recommendation letter to SAMHSA here.
Comments on the Uniform Application for the Mental Health Block Grant and Substance Abuse Block Grant FY 2014-2015 Application (OMB No. 0930-0168)
Recommendation One: Full public transparency in all block grant planning processes
States and Territories will be required to post on a publicly accessible website the following information:
- Composition of membership of block grant planning committee - Website information shall include names of individuals, constituency and/or agency representation (family, youth, adult, etc).
- Announcement of Block Grant meetings and inclusion of time for public comment - Announcements of block grant meetings will include encouragement for the public to attend. Block grant meetings shall include time on the agenda for public comment.
- Process utilized for arriving at funding recommendations - The process used to develop and implement Block Grant funding decisions will be fully described.
Recommendation Two: Equity in funding between child and adult mental health services
Block grant plans will exhibit equity in funding for children's mental health services that is proportional to each state's child/youth population at a minimum but also takes into account level of need of children and youth with serious emotional challenges and their families.
Recommendation Three: Comprehensive Care Coordination
Comprehensive care coordination for children and youth with serious emotional challenges and their families will be considered a funding priority.
Recommendation Four: Wraparound Child and Family Teams
Wraparound Child and Family Teams will be supported as the vehicle to develop family-driven and youth-guided plans to further coordinate a family driven, youth guided, comprehensive community-based ongoing service planning and implementation process.
Recommendation Five: Agency Contracts Must be Monitored
Contracting between the state and local entities must include language and conditions that support the active utilization of Wraparound Child and Family Teams, Care Review, as well as other areas that support system of care principles. The responsible organization must monitor all service provider organizations to ensure adherence to active utilization of wraparound child and family teams and care review.
Recommendation Six: Family and Youth Partners
Specific funding strategies will be identified to support youth and family support like Family Partners or Youth Peer Support who provide informal care coordination, navigation, engagement and linkage to services for children, youth and families.
Recommendation Seven: Care Review Process
A community based Care Review process must be in place with active representative participation and responsibility from all major child-serving agencies, organizations, youth and families.
Recommendation Eight: Family-Driven and Youth-Guided
Plans will embrace a family-driven and youth-guided approach, which requires among other things:
- Stigma reduction - A clear plan to reduce stigma and engage in community-based health promotion activities.
- Family and youth involvement in Governance - Clear evidence of parents and youth involved in local governance around the design and delivery of services and supports to youth with emotional challenges and their families.
Now it's your turn. We encourage you to send in letters as well. Make sure you get your response in by September 11, 2012.
- Written comments are to be submitted to Ms. Summer King, SAMHSA Reports Clearance Officer, Room 2–1057, 1 Choke Cherry Road, Rockville, Maryland 20857 or e-mail comments to email@example.com.
We encourage you to read what we have sent as well as go back and review our previous posts on the block grant conundrum to help you prepare your own comments:
- It's time to hold block grant administrators accountable in a time of funding cuts - July 22, 2012
- Block grant update makes our head hurt - August 10, 2012
For the data geeks among us (present company included), here are two links for you to peruse.
- The first link provides 2010 Mental Health National Outcome Measures (NOMS) data for each state.
- The second link takes you to the reports from each State's mental health agency where, under the Finance subheading, you will find a question on the proportion of the State's block grant that is used for children's services.
FY 2014-2015 Information
- Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 135 / Friday, July 13, 2012 / Notices
- Draft FY 2014 – FY 2015 Block Grant Application
- Draft FY 2014 – FY 2015 Reporting Section
- Chief Executive Officer's Funding Agreements/Certifications (Form 3)
You can do your part to encourage your children's directors and commissioners to do the right thing by contacting them and letting them know. Contact information for each group is below:
The Network will do our part by tracking block grant development in all 50 states. It is time that children's mental health funding receives it's fair share in not just a few states, but in all states. Children’s mental health is in danger of being squeezed – your voice is needed. Here are three immediate things you can do to help:
- Find out how you can get on your block grant planning committee. Call your Children and Youth representative to find out how to do this.
- Participate in block grant meetings. Even if you are not invited, they are open to the public, so show up.
- Advocate for increased children’s mental health funding.