Voices’ Blog

2014 General Assembly: Children’s Mental Health

Posted:  -  By: Voices for VA's Kids

The 2014 Virginia Legislative Session started on Wednesday, January 8th, and we wanted to give you a brief update on the Campaign’s  legislative priorities for this year.

 Continue to expand community-based crisis response services for children and child psychiatry services throughout Virginia

The Campaign for Children’s Mental Health is grateful for the $3.65 million in ongoing annual funding provided by the General Assembly in the last two sessions to expand children’s access to crisis response services and child psychiatry in each of the five regions of the state. In FY13, the first year of implementation, the three pilot programs reduced admissions to the state children’s psychiatric hospital by 10% and reduced bed day utilization by 21% as a result of the new services being available in their communities. Having proven successful, these pilots need to be expanded so that additional children with serious mental health challenges can be treated more effectively and at lower cost.

Support efforts to improve the transition for youth with mental health disorders from the child mental health system to the adult mental health system to help ensure continuity of treatment

Adolescents with serious mental health disorders often discontinue their participation in treatment once they turn 18 due to the lack of coordination between systems, different eligibility criteria, lack of supports for independent living and other barriers. The needs of this age group were highlighted in the Governor’s School and Campus Safety Task Force recommendations, and Voices supports efforts to implement services for this population. We will work to ensure that the needs of Virginia’s children are not eclipsed by the needs of other age groups.


Access to mental health care has a new sense of urgency–and mental health policy issues will be high priority during the 2014 legislative session. Governor McDonnell recently appointed a Task Force on Mental Health Services and Crisis Response that met for the first time on Tuesday.  The task force was established to accomplish very important goals: review existing services and challenges in Virginia’s mental health system and recommend solutions that will improve Virginia’s mental health crisis services and help pervent crises from developing. Gov. McDonnell named 37 people to the task force, including representatives from mental health, law enforcement, and private hospitals along with individuals receiving mental health services and their families.  This task force will be making initial recommendations to the legislature no later than January 31st, 2014.  Governor-elect McAuliffe will have to issue an executive order for the Task Force to continue after his inauguration tomorrow, so we will keep you posted on this group’s progress.

 You can find out who is part of the task force and view the presentations from the meeting here: http://www.dbhds.virginia.gov/MHSCRTTaskforce.htm


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