Governor Tom Corbett has issued a proclamation making May 9 Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day in Pennsylvania. In his proclamation the governor notes that “addressing the complex mental health needs of children, youth and families today is fundamental to the future of Pennsylvania.” Governor Corbett goes on to “urge our commonwealth’s citizens to become aware of the importance of effective and coordinated services for children and youth, to learn about the impact of trauma on child health and well-being, and to unite in an effort to increase awareness about the importance of comprehensive programs for children and youth with mental health needs and their families.”
PCPA joins the governor and neighbors across Pennsylvania in celebrating Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day and commends mental health professionals and workers who strive daily to meet the complex needs of children, youth, and families.
Governor Corbett’s proposed budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year includes devastating cuts to community mental health programs. It is imperative that you contact your “State” Representative and Senator and urge them to restore these harmful cuts. Let them know that persons with mental illness rely on these services to help them remain in the community, and avoid institutional settings. We also suggest that NAMI Affiliate Presidents meet with their area state legislators in their district offices (see tips for meetings).
The Governor’s budget proposes consolidating 7 programs (including community mental health services and the Behavioral Health Services Initiative) into a single, “flexible” Human Services Block Grant for counties and then slashes funding by 20%. In addition to the 20% cut in funding, there is no guarantee that the block grant funds will be used to provide mental health services. Legislators must vote on the Governor’s proposed budget.
One of DPW’s initiatives is to reduce the number of people living in institutions and when appropriate, place them in less costly, community settings. We applaud these efforts. However, it is critical that legislators restore funding for community mental health services, or individuals may end up back in institutional settings, including state hospitals, inpatient psychiatric facilities or state prisons. The proposed budget cuts jeopardize the lives of those who rely on community mental health services.
This is a very difficult budget year and it is extremely important that you contact your legislators, tell them why community mental health services are important to you and ask them to oppose the proposed cuts.
The budget issues will remain active until the budget is passed by your state Representatives and Senators (usually around June 30th). The following actions are suggested to help have an impact on changing the Governor’s recommendations for cuts to community mental health programs.
We have provided a Sample Letter which will help you to tell your story and the impact these cuts may have on your family. Personal stories are important and are a way to help illustrate for legislators and the Governor, the importance of the services targeted for cuts. For NAMI PA Affiliates and others, we have also provided an outline for requesting a meeting in local offices of local state elected officials. These meetings, are an important part of the total strategy for helping legislators to better understand the impact of the Governor’s proposed cuts.
Please open the above link to access the NAMI PA website and the resources listed below. If you cannot open directly through link than simply go to www.namipa.nami.org and click on the “Call to Action” at the top of the page! Thank You!
Talking Points Sample Letter Steps for Legislator Meetings
List of the Types of Services Impacted by Cuts Overview of the Proposed Budget
Find your Legislator OMHSAS budget Governor’s budget
Governor Corbett will present his proposed 2012/13 state budget on February 7 and it is anticipated that the Department of Public Welfare budget may be cut. The budget will not be finalized until much later, usually by the end of June. There is significant opportunity to impact the final budget numbers by strong and effective advocacy in the districts. In the current economic climate it is more crucial than ever that community providers reach out to local legislators to educate them regarding the importance of maintaining the community safety net for constituents in need of mental health, intellectual disability, or substance use disorder services.
It is imperative that members contact legislators in their district offices to urge them to support funding mental health, intellectual disability, and substance use disorder services at a level that enables community agencies to continue to provide quality services. Visits are most effective if framed by:
For supporting material, please review the talking points document referred to below.
Important information to highlight concerning your role as an employer includes the following.
When contacting legislators the following materials should be shared:
It is important to note that PCPA members agree with the necessity of a balanced state budget, but not on the backs of individuals served. If services to Pennsylvanians in need of mental health, intellectual disability, autism, or addiction care are to remain accessible and effective, funding must be preserved and Pennsylvania’s safety net must be protected. To avoid the implementation of cuts to community services, it is crucially important that members take action.
News From PCPA
Governor Corbett has nominated Gary Tennis of Philadelphia to serve as secretary of the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs. The new department was created as a result of Act 50 signed into law before Governor Rendell left office. The Corbett administration had decided last year not to create the department, citing budgetary constraints, but has decided to move forward.
Tennis is retired from his previous position as chief of the legislation unit in the Philadelphia’s District Attorney’s Office, where he represented the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association working with the General Assembly. He has more than 25 years of legislative experience and served as executive director of the President’s Commission on Model State Drug Laws in 1993. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Tulsa in 1975 and was a Rhodes Scholarship nominee. He is also a graduate of The University of Pennsylvania Law School.
It was reported that Tennis’s first order of business will be to analyze the provision of drug and alcohol services, which are currently provided through several agencies including the Departments of Health and Public Welfare. Tennis has been charged with taking a “commonsense approach to streamlining and eliminating duplication of state drug and alcohol treatment and prevention efforts in Pennsylvania.”
The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs was created under Act 50 of 2010. It will establish a plan for the management and allocation of state and federal funds used to oversee alcohol and drug prevention, intervention, and treatment services. The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs is currently located in the Health and Welfare building. The Pennsylvania Department of Health is assisting in the agency’s formation.
PCPA will work with the new department to assure that member issues and priorities are addressed.
Find out more at PCPA’s website: http://www.paproviders.org/