Note to readers: Several Healthy Transitions Project Directors signed on to a letter to the Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, asking her to reconsider measures being taken to severely weaken evaluation and technical assistance efforts attached to their grants. The letter is reprinted below. For background on this evolving story, read the Morning Zen post on the Assistant Secretary's decision here.
April 10, 2018
The United States Department of Health and Human Services
Elinore F. Mccance-Katz, M.D.
Hubert H. Humphrey Building
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington DC, 20201
RE: Support for the Continuation of the Now Is the Time - Healthy Transitions Technical Assistance (NITT-TA) Center Program - NITT-Healthy Transitions (RF A #SM-14-017. CFDA #93 .243)
Dear Dr. McCance-Katz:
On behalf of the Now Is the Time - Healthy Transitions Project Directors, we are writing this letter to request the United States Department of Health and Human Services, through its Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to maintain the current technical assistance programming structure for all of the states receiving funds from the above-captioned grant. As part of the overall success of the five-year grant initiative, which focuses on improving life trajectories for youth and young adults with, or at risk for serious mental health conditions, is the outstanding technical assistance we grantees are currently receiving.
We believe the core of the Healthy Transitions grant is to innovate, collaborate, and evaluate. This means, not only within a given grantee's jurisdiction, but also together as grantees across our nation. The technical assistance the TA Center is providing for grantees is both the conduit and catalyst for the type of foundational changes all of our states are seeking to make in order to have improved behavioral health outcomes for youth and young adults. There are so many reasons why we believe a continued partnership with the NITT-T A Center is imperative. The NITT-TA Center is:
- Resourcing the most cutting-edge information, a national bank of experts, and the most current data and trends which inform many of our service delivery systems and practices which attract, engage and retain youth and young adults;
- Connecting grantees with others who share common visions and have various levels of skill and experience to gain insight, learn lessons, and share successes in order for special projects to be replicated in many states;
- Demonstrating a genuine interest in the success oflocal level projects, which, in tum, strengthens the overall capacity of the HT grant in each state to better serve youth and young adults; and
- Helping the entire national grant initiative to sustain the momentum behind shifting the behavioral health paradigm for youth and young adults well into the future.
We urge you to consider that all of the successful work, which is transpiring in the fourteen grantee states, and a tribal community, is significantly predicated on the support grantees receive from theNIIT-TA. To remove it now, especially as we approach our final year with the focus on sustainability, would decelerate the progress the grantees have made towards moving the mountain just all that closer to improved behavioral, mental health and substance use outcomes for all youth and young adults. Please allow us grantees to keep the most exemplary technical assistance we have ever received, bar none.
We thank you for your thoughtful consideration of our request.
Sincerely, and on behalf of the following NITT-HT Project Directors,
Michael J. Ruble, JD, Project Director - New Mexico; Brittney Hemingway, Project Director - Utah; Karen Jenkins, Project Director - Pennsylvania; Tonicia Freeman-Foster, Ed.D, Project Director - Florida; Gwen Derr, M.B.A., Project Director - Delaware; Igor Malinovsky, Project Director - New York; Denise A. Achin, M.Ed, Project Director - Rhode Island; Betsy Edes, Program Director - Massachusetts
(Download the letter here to see signatures)