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SENATE BUDGET UPDATE 11/18/20: Debate on the Senate Budget wrapped up Wednesday, November 18th. Amendment #190: Return to School "Bridge" Programs, filed by Sen. Friedman, has PASSED! Check back HERE for the Senate's final budget. The budget moves next to Conference Committee.
HOUSE BUDGET UPDATE 11/13/20: The House has published it's final budget, which you can view HERE. The House rejected funding for MHAP for Kids and Bridge Programs but did allocate $50,000 in seed funding to begin the process of planning for a statewide school behavioral health technical assistance center.
BUDGET UPDATE 10/30/20: As the legislature and administration attempt to balance the FY2021 budget, CMHC strongly urges these bodies not to undercut the capacity of an already overburdened children’s behavioral health system to respond to what we firmly believe is going to be a significant increase in need for behavioral health care among kids. Read our full letter to the House and Senate Chairs of Ways & Means.
The Campaign's budget advocacy in the FY21 State Budget includes:
Mental Health Advocacy Program for Kids: DCF Line Item #4800-0200
BUDGET UPDATE: The House rejected the amendment asking for a $300,000 earmark for MHAP for Kids. The Senate Budget, however, includes a $950,000 earmark. This is a huge win for us, and we are hopeful this will hold through Conference Committee.
MHAP for Kids is a highly sought after service currently offered in the Family Resource Centers (FRCs) serving Bristol, Essex, Hampden, Middlesex, Norfolk, Suffolk, and Worcester counties. They divert children from possible or further court involvement, help children thrive in school, reduce family conflict and minimize costly emergency room treatment. FRCs report growing mental health needs of families living in communities most impacted by the global pandemic.
MHAP for Kids is a highly sought after program forging pathways for at-risk children to difficult-to-access mental health treatment. It is currently situated in the FRCs serving families in Bristol, Essex, Hampden, Middlesex, Norfolk Suffolk, and Worcester counties. The MHAP for Kids attorneys are highly qualified advocates who eliminate obstacles to mental health services. They aim to divert children from possible or further court involvement, help children thrive in school, and reduce family conflict while minimizing costly emergency department visits and inpatient mental health treatment. A MHAP for Kids attorney works directly with state agencies, including schools, treatment providers and insurers in order to ensure that a child receives appropriate and needed services. An independent evaluation of the program confirms its positive impact on at-risk youth and their families.
This funding will maintain the program in the FRCs, currently serving 7 counties with support from a dedicated intake worker and paralegal, and it will expand the program to all counties not currently served.
RETURN TO SCHOOL “BRIDGE” PROGRAMS: DPH LINE ITEM #4590-0250
BUDGET UPDATE: Amendment #190 to secure level funding at $350,000 has PASSED!
The focus of Bridge programs is to ensure that youth who have been out of school for psychiatric or other hospitalizations can successfully transition back to school. Many districts already have these innovative programs, which provide emotional and academic support to students who have missed 5 or more days of school due to a mental health crisis, hospitalization, or serious medical problem. 50% of US high school students with serious mental illness drop out of school. Bridge programs are changing that script for Massachusetts youth with a short-term intervention that reduces drop-out rates to 8%.
Throughout the pandemic, Bridge programs continue to help schools create effective and efficient structures for helping students struggling with serious mental health and other medical challenges achieve success. Bridge programs have been working with school and district leaders, and entire school faculties across Massachusetts, to integrate school wide strategies and supports to promote mental health and equity for all students and families. The funds requested will enable the continuation of direct support for students struggling with serious mental health challenges, made possible by supporting bridge program staff in schools (clinicians and academic coordinators) in adjusting their roles and developing skills needed to work effectively during this period. The Bridge for Resilient Youth in Transition (BRYT) School Support team, which provides training and TA to all bridge programs in the state, has been helping the 140 existing BRYT programs in Massachusetts navigate this shift through customized technical assistance, cross-school cohort meetings and professional learning opportunities, and on-call consultation.
As a result of Amendment #447, filed by Rep. Decker, the House Budget now includes language specifically calling for funds from the DMH Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services Line Item (5042-5000) "be expended to provide services to address behavioral health needs arising from the impact of COVID-19, including the impact of remote learning, and services to assist school districts with behavioral health support" including $50,000 to the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health to partner with the BIRCh Center to develop a plan for establishment of a school based behavioral health technical assistance center. This amendment supports our larger work in School-Based Behavioral Health.
The Children’s Mental Health Campaign (CMHC) has advocated for these priorities for several years. We appreciate the legislature’s ongoing, consistent funding of these important programs.