Voices’ Blog

General Assembly Update 2-24-12

Posted:  -  By: Voices for VA's Kids

I had an opportunity this morning to make a presentation to the Allied Health Caucus, a group of legislators and lobbyists working in health care, about children’s mental health crisis services. You can view my presentation here: Allied Health Caucus Presentation 2-24-12. Thanks to Delegate Garrett and Delegate Dance for including me on the agenda, and for Delegate Dickie Bell and Delegate O’Bannon for their supportive comments. They have both been outstanding champions for children’s mental health.

As we informed you Tuesday, both the House and Senate included some funding for children’s mental health services in their budgets: the House provide $1 million over the biennium for mobile crisis teams and the Senate provide $2.2 million over the biennium for child psychiatry demonstration projects.

Since then, as you may have read, the House and Senate have voted on their budgets. The House approved its version of the budget, with our crisis amendment intact the same as it came out of the committee on Sunday. The Senate, however, did not pass its budget, meaning any amendments that were in the Senate budget but not the House budget will now have to be amended to the House budget to be considered.

As this unusual budget process moves forward, we will be advocating that all the money for children’s mental health proposed on either side be included in the final budget. We’ll keep you informed about when to contact legislators to make your voice heard.

Here is an overview of how some other children’s items fared in the two budgets. For a full description, please see our Committee Approved Budget Amendments.

Early Care and Education: The Senate proposed increasing the per-pupil amount in the Virginia Preschool Initiative from $6000 to $6800; the House did not. In the area of home visiting, the Senate restored funding to Healthy Families, but the House did not. Both the House and Senate restored some funds to CHIP of Virginia.

Health: Both the House and Senate funded Medicaid and FAMIS coverage for legal immigrant pregnant women, which will produce better outcomes for babies by providing pre-natal care to moms. Both also restored funding to the so-called “health safety net,” including funding for free health clinics.

CSA and Child Welfare: Both the House and Senate recalculated enrollment trends in CSA, projecting that caseloads will continue to drop, and reduced funding to the program by $17 million over the biennium. The Senate reinvested some of these funds (about $5 million) by restoring funds to wrap-around services for certain CSA children in special education the first year. Only the Senate restored funding for Child Advocacy Centers.

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