CHICAGO – Governor Blagojevich today named twenty-five members to the Children’s Mental Health Partnership, a planning committee established by the Children’s Mental Health Act of 2003, signed by the Governor last August.
Citing a children’s mental health system he characterized as “fragmented, limited in scope and under-resourced” he charged the panel with creating the state’s blueprint for a comprehensive approach to address the social and emotional needs of Illinois’ children.
“Research shows that one in ten children in this state suffers from a mental illness severe enough to cause some impairment, yet only one out of five of those children receives mental health services,” said the Governor. “We can do better. Considering the long- term social costs if we don’t address this issue, we must do better.”
There is a demonstrated connection between a child’s healthy social and emotional development and school readiness, academic success and overall well-being. An approach that focuses on prevention and early assistance for at-risk and troubled children can reduce the incidence of more costly outcomes – treatment, grade retention, special education services and welfare dependency.
The Children’s Mental Health Partnership, a 35-member interdisciplinary committee will craft a plan for a statewide system of services, including prevention, early intervention and treatment for children 0-18. The plan will focus upon maximizing current resources and identifying new funding sources and strategies to expand the range and availability of services, while integrating existing services into a comprehensive continuum of care.
Barbara Shaw, Director of the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority has been appointed Partnership Chairwoman. Referring to the challenging task before her committee, she commented, "I look forward to working with the Partnership and the Blagojevich Administration to build our children's social and emotional strength so they can become happy, achieving students and productive, caring citizens. We expect that Illinois will be a national leader in this effort."
The Children’s Mental Health Act of 2003 provides that:
- Illinois create a substantive and strategic plan for building an effective children’s mental health system to address prevention, early intervention and treatment for children 0-18 years;
- Funds contracted by the Office of Mental Health may be used for services to children 0-18;
- Illinois develop a plan for adding social/emotional learning standards into the curriculum and that local school districts develop policies to address the role of social/emotional learning in their education programs;
- Medicaid-eligible children will receive a comprehensive assessment prior to a psychiatric hospitalization to determine if more appropriate, community-based services are available; and
- Currently untapped Medicaid funding for Individual Care Grants for individuals under 21 hospitalized for psychiatric care will be claimed.
The Partnership will also engage in a public awareness campaign to promote understanding of children’s social/emotional issues, and de-stigmatize mental illness.
The Partnership will seek funding for its work and pilot from federal sources and private foundations. A number of state agencies are contributing staff time and in-kind support. The list of partnership members is listed below; those indicated by an asterisk are gubernatorial appointees.