Lawmakers are debating SB 14, a high priority to support children with behavioral health needs in New Hampshire. On April 9th, the bill will be heard in the House Children and Family Law Committee. Committee members need to hear from Granite Staters about why they should pass SB 14. Call the committee members today!
What does SB 14 do?
SB 14-FN takes a systemic approach to improving child welfare and ensuring children and youth get the appropriate support services where and when they need them. The bill
- helps children and families in crisis by expanding access to community-based mobile crisis response and stabilization services;
- further integrates child welfare services with the System of Care for children’s behavioral health; and
- makes improvements to the system in alignment with the DCYF Adequacy and Enhancement Assessment, the federal Family First Prevention Services Act, and the 10-Year Mental Health Plan.
Why do we need SB 14-FN?
- There are multiple crises in NH impacting children. The ongoing mental health, substance misuse, and child protection crises have taken a significant toll on NH’s children and families, impacting all child-serving systems and placing increased pressure on the children’s behavioral health system. These crises are causing toxic stress in many of our children, which can have long-term, negative health and wellness consequences if unaddressed. Unfortunately, resources for preventative services are limited in NH and the systems set up to support children remain underfunded and uncoordinated. To address these complex issues, it is vital that NH takes a coordinated and systemic approach to solving these problems to protecting our children and preventing issues down the road.
- It ensures NH’s children behavioral health system is consistent with new federal requirements. The federal Family First Prevention Services Act reforms the federal child welfare financing streams to provide services to families who are at risk of entering the child welfare system, including allowing federal reimbursement for evidence-based and trauma-informed “prevention services”, including mental health services, substance use treatment, and in-home parenting skill training. It also seeks to improve the well-being of children by incentivizing states to reduce placement of children in congregate care. Part of the state’s plan under this Act must include the use of evidence and trauma-informed strategies to better transition youth from residential and in-patient care back into their communities and schools.
- Children aren’t getting what they need, when and where they need it. Right now, there are long waitlists at Community Mental Health Centers, a lack of child psychiatrists, and children waiting in hospital emergency departments for treatment. A lack of intensive community-based services means 1) children in crisis are not getting appropriate treatment and 2) the state must rely on expensive, residential and inpatient treatment that drain the state’s resources. Expanding access to community-based mobile crisis response and stabilization services is a critical component of addressing the emergency boarding crisis and will in many cases avoid costly, restrictive, and often unnecessary institutional and residential care. These services are also cost effective when compared to treating children in more expensive settings and can reduce the need for other costly services. Our children cannot wait any longer for appropriate treatment.
Please call members of the Children and Family Law committee and ask them to support SB 14! Feel free to share your story with lawmakers to illustrate the need for a comprehensive, coordinated System of Care for children with behavioral health needs.