Connecticut Looks to Expand Children’s Mental Health Services
Connecticut Gov. John Rowland's (R) administration is advocating a $33 million plan to "overhaul" children's mental health services in the state, AP/Newsday reports. Saying that Connecticut has an "acute" shortage of mental health services for children, Rowland's budget chief Marc Ryan on Jan. 2 announced a plan that would create a statewide system of community-based services and increase the number of residential beds for "more seriously disturbed children." While the state currently budgets $207 million for children's mental health, 70% of that figure goes toward inpatient services -- "the most expensive ways to treat children." As a result, there is little funding for preventive community-based services that would keep children in their homes. Moreover, the lack of community services often results in children remaining in emergency rooms and psychiatric hospitals longer than necessary while others are held in juvenile detention centers or sent out-of-state for treatment. The new program, however, would expand a state Department of Children and Families program, creating "emergency mobile response teams" -- or licensed social workers and psychologists who visit the homes of children who have a "psychiatric crisis." The plan also calls for the construction of "safe homes" where children could receive care while "preparing to return home" or waiting for an opening in a residential facility. In addition, the overhaul proposal creates 50 sub-acute beds in existing residential treatment centers. If Rowland, who has yet to officially comment on the proposal, formally endorses the plan, it is expected to receive bipartisan support (AP/Newsday, 1/3).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.