Thursday, December 20, 2007

Blunt Asks for $2 Million For Kids Health

Gov. Matt Blunt is calling for more than $2 million dollars to place mental health workers directly in schools.

Blunt's proposal calls for a two-year cost sharing grant program in partnership with local community mental health centers and school districts.

Blunt cited the Columbine tragedy as a reminder "that we cannot ignore some of our children have special needs that must be identified and addressed early."

"This funding will help ensure that Missouri students receive the assistance they need to stay emotionally healthy and perform well in school," Blunt said in a release.

Rep. Bob Dixon and Springfield Public Schools superintendent Norm Ridder were both quoted in the Governor's release. Rep. Dixon said the plan would "reduce disruptions that hinder learning for all students.”

Estimates from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicate that 5 percent of the population of children between 4 and 17 demonstrate serious mental health problems needing specialized treatment. According to the Governor's office, research says more than one in ten children will contemplate suicide during their school years.

2 comments:

Brent said...

Although I agree with the need for services in the schools, I do not agree that only community mental health agencies can provide the service. Many of these kids have therapists that are not affiliated with any community agency and it would be unethical and possibly harmful to require them to see someone different.

Several years ago Medicaid stopped paying for services at schools by outside therapists. Then a few years back they disallowed seeing a child in a vehicle or park. Even recently Gov. Blunt appointed no mental health professions to the subcommittees that oversee MoHealthNet. It is irritating, to say the least, that people who have very little of understanding are making these decisions based on advisors who represent the "not for profit" groups and cut out the individual therapists or small groups.

Steve said...

Brent

I tend to agree. While it is appropriate for the Governor to address mental health needs of children, he is avoiding the "rest of the story". As you pointed out, this is a very limited and circumscribed group of agencies that are "allowed" to provide such services. Many if not most mental health practitioners exist in small groups or individual practices. This type of approach by the state appears to benefit only a small group of individuals and forces the consumers who can least afford services to deal with the narrowest of choices for care for their children. Perhaps this is the intention of the state. Serve a few professionals who will benefit and cut out the rest. I wonder who gets to share the meager two million that is being offered. Too little.