Voices’ Blog

General Assembly Approves Budget: Progress for Children’s Mental Health

Posted:  -  By: Ashley Airington

We have some exciting news to report! The General Assembly included increased funding for children’s mental health services and took steps to address behavioral health workforce development challenges. This past Friday was a busy day in Richmond with both the Senate and House tying up all the loose ends of the 2016 Session and hoping to adjourn a day early. While we didn’t get all that we had advocated for this session, in the end there were important victories for Virginia’s children. Now that the General Assembly has approved the budget, it will go to the Governor for final approval. We do not expect any changes in these items.


Community-Based Crisis Services and Child Psychiatry (315 #5c)

The Conference budget include an additional $3.5 million over the next two years, bringing the total statewide allocation for services to $8.4million GF.  Beginning with a modest investment of less than $2million in 2012, this is the fifth year in a row that the General Assembly has increased funding for children’s crisis response and child psychiatry services. More kids in need of crisis services now have access to them in their very own communities.


Collaborative Plan for Loan Repayment for Behavioral Health Practitioners  (Item 288 #2cWhile we are disappointed that funding for the Behavioral Health Practitioner Loan Repayment Program (Del. Yost & Sen. Deeds) did not make it in the budget, this collaborative plan is an opportunity to examine the problem and explore the possibility of a student loan repayment program. More specifically, the Virginia Department of Health will develop a plan to increase the number of behavioral health practitioners practicing in state and local behavioral health agencies and health safety net organizations through the use of a student loan repayment program. The plan shall be reported by Nov 1st, 2016. We look forward to reading this report and coming back next year with a plan to address the workforce recruitment and retention challenges Community Services Boards face.   

Report on Outpatient Mental Health Services for Youth (315 #10c)

This language amendment directs the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services to report annually on the mental health outpatient services for transition-age youth. The report shall include information on the use and impact of these funds by October 1st of each year.


Thank you to all of you who contacted your legislators during this session to talk to them about the importance of addressing children’s mental health. Slowly but surely, we are raising awareness of this issue and the need to make services available to the children and families who need them.

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