New Statewide Family Network grants get the ax. What you should know and what you should do.
January 31, 2014
January 31, 2014
SAMHSA announced last week that the proposed funding for up to six new Statewide Family Network grants would not be made available due to budgetary constraints. Our phones have been ringing off the hook about this, as have the phones of a number of other children’s mental health advocacy groups. Amidst the angst of realizing that the proposed size of the grants for 2014 had been raised to 98 thousand per year (for a lucky five recipients) only to see those dreams dashed due to the need to trim the budget, it is important to keep several factors in perspective. As the advocacy community moves forward with planning efforts to raise awareness about the importance of statewide family networks there are realities that need to be addressed and factored in to any planning efforts.
Understand that I am not advocating that Statewide Family Networks provide these services but Statewide Family Networks should be at the forefront of advocacy efforts on behalf of increasing the array of effective services for youth with emotional challenges and their families. While some network grantees provide services and do so well, the overall intent of the grant program as originally designed is to strengthen the voices of families at the local and state level in areas of policy, program design and development.
The other document that you should know backwards and forwards is the recently released final rule on Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS). For those states that choose to pursue an HCBS waiver this final rule means great things for youth with emotional challenges and their families regarding the flexibility and opportunity to provide services and supports that are more closely aligned with what youth and families need, not necessarily what a particular provider has to offer. Click here to read the Morning Zen post written a few weeks back.
Being able to converse about these two documents ups your game and increases your credibility in state circles. Whether your state pursues these options are not, the point is that you can be the one bringing them up. You can be the one scheduling meetings with your state Medicaid Director to talk about how to improve services for youth and families. You can be the one to talk about the importance of sustaining family-driven efforts like the Statewide Family Network program beyond federal funding. These are but two tangible examples of how you can begin to leverage yourself into the funding conversation on behalf of your Network program.
Okay, so if you haven’t unsubscribed from Friday Update just quite yet, let me share a final thought. I have had the amazing good fortune to have been involved with the Statewide Family Network grants in one way or another since their inception. I will never forget the constant juxtaposition of geography (i.e., Texas vs. Rhode Island vs. frontier Utah), disparities in income, existing access to services and cultural realities for those early grantees who were all getting the same meager amount of funding and being asked to do the same thing, regardless of the vast differences between funded states. It was an uphill climb then and it is an uphill climb today. But what remained inspiring then and continues today is the resilient spirit of family leaders across the country who continue to sacrifice, not of their own choosing, but of life’s circumstances, on behalf of youth with emotional challenges and their families. We at the Network will continue to follow the developments with regard to the Statewide Family Network grants and will continue to highlight the important work they do. As well, we will continue to push us all to take a stratified approach to funding important initiatives like the Statewide Family Network grants.
President & CEO
Children’s Mental Health Network