“The Department of Children & Families has admitted that it hasn’t been able to provide services to 170,000 adults and 40,000 children with serious mental illnesses.” So states Fred Grimm in a provocative opinion piece in the Miami Herald.
Apparently, Florida State Senator Joe Negron, who oversees the Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services Appropriations, has pushed a $76.1 million reduction in the state’s mental health services budget through the Senate. Another $31.6 million would come out of the state’s substance abuse treatment programs. Negron, a self-described libertarian, doesn’t believe in funding community treatment programs as a matter of philosophy.
If the Senate version prevails over a less Draconian appropriation in the House, 34 percent of the mental health funding, and 25.5 percent of the money for substance abuse, would disappear. Some 140,000 patients would be tossed from their community treatment programs. A number of these non-profit programs would shut down.
Why this is important to Network readers… What is happening in Florida is not an isolated event folks. I am not a doom and gloomer but you need to pay attention to trends. Tight fiscal times, clear movement of decision-making about what gets funded to the state level all begs for strong, visible and vocal attention to ensuring that the values and principles of a system of care approach drive policy and program decision-making around children’s mental health services. We are a week away from unveiling our national campaign to do just that! Stay tuned and get ready to be involved.