The Children's Mental Health Coalition met today. As usually, I learned a few things:
- 9C Cuts. The conversation opened with discussion of the impact of 9C cuts on the governor's budget. As reported here the line item that supported the expansion of MCPAP was cut. Early Childhood Mental Health lines were not cut, which seems a good idea, given the "return on investment" from early intervention. Several people spoke of the cuts to the Collaborative Assessment Program, a DCF/DMH(?) program, has sustained major cuts, resulting in some loss of personnel. This was seen as a "bridge program" for the Rosie D. population, which has been seen as one of the major bridge items. In addition to this, there were cuts in the DMH line that supported mental health services in the schools, a large cut from the "circuit breaker" (funding to match local funding for out of district placements for kids in special education funding, many of whom have mental illness problems.) And over all, funding for providers was cut throughout the system. There are stressors to the care of children, but are really hard to follow and to figure out exactly how things filter through the system. So, the Children's Mental Health Campaign is working on a rubric to track the impact of these 9C cuts on the formation of policy and or tracking the way in which the state budget can be restructured to better achieve our goals while not spending a lot more money.
- Chapter 321 Implementation: The good news is that implementing many of pieces of the new law will not cost much money, and we can still plan to make progress in tight economic times. How do you look at the entirety of Chapter 321, and find the places where we can make a difference? Watch carefully. To watch carefully, we are going to watch topic areas and deadlines, to be sure that what happens is what is supposed to happen. Within the Campaign, three or five working groups seem to be forming, around these issues.
- Schools: There are two parts of this task. The Task Force on Behavioral Health on the Public Schools is supposed to be established and convened by 12/31/08, so this is where the work starts. Some of the issues already identified: How will the entitlements of Rosie D. and Special Ed mesh/clash/synergize in the context of Chapter 321? Will there be separate team meetings or can they be integrated? How will confidentiality be handled? How will you build trust with parents? Big questions; this working group will have lots of work to do, to help to inform the discussion of this Task Force. Early Education will be another focus of the group; the group will work with the DEEC to make sure that the Early Childhood report (due 2/15/09) is equally substantive. They will have a lot of input for that process, based on the pioneering work done in Worcester over the last few years.
- Behavioral Health Advisory Council and Research Council: There is many parts about this work that we don't understand, this is a really important one for us to pay attention to- the Advisory Council and Research Center have reporting deadlines, but no direct funding, so that the work is going to involve ways to maximize the use of "private" resources to accomplish these goals. There are reports due on 10/1/09 and 2/1/09 on the Advisory Council and the Research Council. Lots of work to do.
- Private Markets: HLA and the Boston Bar Association have taken the lead on this, but one of the first tasks of this Working Group will be to introduce the legislation needed to get the "Payment for Collaterals" part of the original legislation. They will also be reaching out to the provider community and the community at large to see how this looks in practice.
Want to join a Working Group? Contact Matt Noyes, and he will direct you to the appropriate Working Group chair. The Campaign was successful last year, but we still have a lot of work to do. It will just be a different kind of work. Last year, the Campaign was all about legislation; this year, the focus will be on implementing. We will of course be paying attention to the 9C cuts, and we will be finishing the collateral contact legislation. Implementing last year's success will take up lots of time.
As Barack learned on Nov 4, this is what winning feels like. We have a lot of work to do.