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Government News
Grants Will Foster Integration Of Youth MH Services
Psychiatric News
Volume 40 Number 22 page 6-6

Programs in 20 states that aim to reach more of the estimated 6.3 million youth who need access to community-based mental health services will receive grants totaling $184.5 million over six years, federal officials announced last month.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) awarded the grants through 25 "cooperative agreements" to state, local, and Native-American programs that provide community mental health services for children and adolescents with serious emotional disturbances and their families, according to SAMHSA. The program defines "emotional disturbance" as diagnosable disorders that severely disrupt the youngsters' daily functioning in the home, school, or community.

The aim of the grant program, which will distribute $23.5 million in Fiscal 2005, is to integrate a comprehensive array of mental health and support services into a coordinated network that addresses the clinical and functional needs of children and adolescents and provides support to their families. Congress approved the funding in 2004, after extensive APA lobbying.

"Unless provided with appropriate care, these youngsters often experience significant challenges in school and are at high risk of being removed from home and family to institutional settings," said Charles Curie, M.A., SAMHSA administrator, in a written statement.

The program, a component of the Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children and their Families Program, was begun in 1992. It has been popular with federal legislators and the Bush administration, which have kept its funding stable in recent years despite cuts in other areas of mental health, according to Lizbet Boroughs, deputy director of APA's Department of Government Relations (DGR).

APA has long supported continued funding of this program in discussions with members of Congress and appropriations committee staff, Boroughs said. Moreover, each year the Mental Health Liaison Group, of which APA is a member, includes funding recommendations for the grants in its annual appropriations list of mental health services and programs.

The program is also well regarded by budget analysts and scores well in effectiveness in assessments by the federal Office of Management and Budget, according to Boroughs.

"We're very gratified that these grants continue to be funded and be a priority to the administration," said Boroughs. "These grants have been very, very successful."

Since the program was launched in 1992, more than 100 grants have been awarded to state, local, and tribal governments in 49 states, Washington, D.C., Guam, and Puerto Rico, according to SAMHSA; 11 grants were awarded in the past two years.

The largest number of grants were awarded to California, which received four of this year's 25 grants of up to $1 million. The county-administered Medicaid system in that state receives such a large number of the grants because the populous locales aggressively seek additional funding sources, Boroughs said.

Butte County, for example, received $992,919 for the first year to establish wraparound services, such as transportation, educational services, and other needs, as part of what SAMHSA officials described as a" complete system of care" for children with severe emotional disturbances.

Boroughs described the programs that are receivingz the grants as" low-budget, high-impact services" that are rarely funded by Medicaid.

The grants, which are renewable for up to six years, are awarded on the basis that state and local governments will continue to fund the programs themselves at the end of the grant term.

Although the Fiscal 2006 federal budget process remained in flux at press time, the funding for next year's grants appeared likely to remain at about the same level as in Fiscal 2005, according to Boroughs.

Further details on the grants are posted online at<www.samhsa.gov/news/newsreleases/051004_ChildMentalHealth.htm>.

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