We Need Your Help – Contact Your Legislator Today!

We Need Your Help – Contact Your Legislator Today!

We need your help!  Please contact your legislator (details below).

A review of Governor Malloy’s proposed State budget shows that children’s services bear a disproportionately large share of reductions and, within that, funding to Connecticut’s School-Based Health Centers (SBHCs) has been particularly slashed.  With SBHCs playing a critical role in identifying and treating our most at-risk youth through integrated, barrier-free medical and mental health services, this is creating a potential crisis as these services are already chronically underfunded.

As just one of Connecticut’s SBHC providers, Child and Family Agency’s calculation is that, if the legislature were to approve the Governor’s budget proposal as is, our SBHCs will lose over $266,000 per year in grant funding by the second year of the biennium (SFY 2017)(the two years of proposed cuts on top of January’s 5% rescission) – over 10% of our SBHC funding.  When translated directly into the resulting loss of positions who produce the billable sessions (Nurse Practitioners and mental health clinicians), CFA will be down an additional $110,000+ in billable income.  The image then becomes one of chasing our own tails down the drain.  The resulting total is a $376,000 + cut in our annual SBHC funding (roughly 14% of our pre-rescission SBHC annual budget), NOT including whatever the impact of proposed reductions in Medicaid spending may turn out to be for these services.

Expressed in terms of lost school-based services, this means over 2,300 fewer direct medical and mental health service encounters from our current average of over 22,000 visits per year.

  • Some of these lost visits will mean that students who need State-mandated school entry physicals will sit at home or on the streets waiting for an appointment, rather than being seen immediately so they can attend school.
  • Other lost visits will mean that a student with asthma or other condition who could have been treated during the school day may now go into an acute medical crisis and need to be seen in the Emergency Department, costly in terms of missed class time and medical expenses.
  • As a third example, some of the students who are in need of mental health supports will now sit on a waiting list rather than be seen before problems worsen.

The bottom line is that the pre-rescission, pre-cut level of subsidy grant funding combined with Medicaid reimbursement (and even other sources such as United Way for some providers) does not meet the cost of service delivery, done more inexpensively and effectively by private non-profits than any other sector.  Cuts to any piece of this funding “pie” will obviously only make this worse, and we will have missed an opportunity to move forwards rather than backwards. If you share our concern for the impact of the Governor’s proposed cuts to these vital services, we ask you to email the attached letter to your legislators.

Please contact one or more of your legislators to voice your concern , urging them to support a responsible State budget that rejects the Governor’s proposed cuts to School-Based Health Centers and other children’s services, and instead prioritizes building a stronger safety net for children and families.  Below is a template letter you can mail or email to your legislators.  Please contact as soon as possible for the appropriations committee meetings have begun.  For more information on the cuts and SBHCs please go to:  http://www.ctschoolhealth.org/

PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATOR WITH THE EMAIL/LETTER BELOW 

To find your town’s Legislator: http://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/content/townlist.asp

Email/Letter Examples:

Dear Representative/Senator___________________,

I am writing to express my deep concern for the cuts to children’s services in the State budget proposed by Governor Malloy for the next two years.  The most basic review shows that children’s services bear a disproportionately large share of these cuts and, within that, funding to Connecticut’s School-Based Health Centers has been particularly slashed.  With SBHCs perennially playing a critical role in identifying, serving and treating our most at-risk youth through uniquely integrated, barrier-free medical and mental health services, there simply is no way to make sense out of such proposed cuts, especially since these services are already chronically underfunded.

The Sandy Hook Advisory Commission’s planning makes it clear that School-Based Health Centers will continue to be in one of the best, barrier-free positions to prevent such future tragedies and ensure healthy life trajectories of all of our youth.  In Governor Malloy’s charge as he established the Commission, he stated, “The recommendations you will craft . . . will no doubt takes us towards the goal, that goal, better mental health [and] better safety in our schools . . .”   That Commission’s final report and recommendations, striking when considered alongside the currently proposed cuts, include

  • To promote true wellness, Connecticut must build a mental health system that targets detection and treatment while building stronger, resilient communities of care.
  • Many of our students and their families live under persistent and pervasive stress that interferes with learning and complicates the educational process. There are many potential resources such as school based health centers that should provide a locus of preventive care, including screenings and referrals for developmental and behavioral difficulties, exposure to toxic stress, and other risk factors, as well as treatment offerings that can address crisis, grief and other stressors. Alternatively, schools can employ the services of community-based mental health providers such as child guidance clinics.
  • Inadequate reimbursement rates combined with high utilization rates have rendered these many behavioral health clinics financially unsustainable.

Furthermore, the Connecticut Children’s Behavioral Health Plan, which was specifically endorsed by the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission, makes similarly clear recommendations, which support PA 13-178’s identified “strategies that can be broadly characterized as promoting access to a comprehensive continuum of mental health services”, including:

  • “Ensuring access to developmentally-appropriate services
  • Offering comprehensive array of services
  • Improving the integration of school- and community-based mental health services.”

Governor Malloy’s vision regarding the importance of strengthening the children’s safety net is to be commended, as are the dozens of individuals who put in months of hard work developing these reports and recommendations.  As challenging as the State budget currently is, it is vital that this good work be carried forward with equally commendable implementation.

The pre-rescission, pre-cut level of subsidy grant funding combined with Medicaid reimbursement (and even other sources such as United Way for some providers) does not meet the cost of service delivery, done more inexpensively and effectively by private non-profits than any other sector.  Cuts to any piece of this funding “pie” will obviously only make this worse, and we will have missed an opportunity to move forwards rather than backwards.  We therefore urge you to support a responsible State budget that rejects the Governor’s proposed cuts to School-Based Health Centers and other children’s services.

 

Respectfully,

Your Name

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