Dozens of concerned parents, educators and community members petitioned lawmakers Wednesday about the critical need for improved mental health and public health care statewide.
Christa Cielo participated in a nearly two-hour public commentary with other parents, highlighting her own experience caring for a child with mental health needs in an underserved situation. did.
“We recently spent 18 years trying to navigate children’s mental health care services in Las Vegas…it’s always been a fiasco and a full-time job,” Cielo told the state interim finance committee. said at a meeting of [funding] As much as possible, I would like to thank children’s mental health care services and autism services so that the children who come in today do not have to go through what my son and I had to go through.
An impassioned plea for help preceded the commission’s approval of a major investment in health care resources and services statewide. This includes his $171 million in public health and more than $45 million in a range of mental health services, including funding mobile crisis response teams. A new children’s behavioral health authority and home services for young people with intensive needs.
Those dollars came from the American Rescue Plan, which brought Nevada $2.7 billion in flexible state aid after it passed in March 2021. Funds in describing past approved expenditures and plans for certain future allocations.
Gov. Steve Sisolak described the approved assignment as “important and historic,” and lawmakers praised the array of support for children’s mental health services.
“We may be able to do one or two of these things in one session … but we will never do it this way,” said Rep. Teresa Benitez Thompson, D-Reno) said, “It’s kind of like a gift in a way, because I’ve never been able to work like this before.”
Cindy Pitlock, who heads the state’s Division of Child and Family Services, echoed concerns expressed by parents and guardians. She said mental health issues among Nevada children amid the COVID-19 pandemic is on the rise and the urgent need to establish more services to provide support for those children.
“Since the outbreak of the pandemic, many children have developed symptoms of depression, anxiety and behavioral disorders, and those who are already suffering are experiencing severe deterioration of their symptoms,” Pitlock said. Told.
Youth Mental Health Services assignment packages include:
- Approximately $1.6 million to support mobile crisis response teams in Clark and Washoe counties
- $7.3 million will be provided to provide wraparound and intensive care arrangements for adolescents in serious need. This also includes children at risk of being placed out of the home in a psychiatric setting.
- $2.4 million to provide intensive family home services
- $2 million to establish the ongoing Children’s Behavioral Health Authority to support behavioral health workers in Nevada and oversee children’s mental health services in the state.
Pitlock said the spending would help “further build and strengthen the children’s care system, which is currently very inadequate.”
Some parents have asked for additional help for their children on the autism spectrum, and Congress has approved $8.5 million to support diagnostic and treatment providers through the Grant a Gift Autism Foundation Ackerman Center. .
In a statement following the quotas’ passage, Barbara Buckley, executive director of the Southern Nevada Center for Legal Aid, called them “an innovative funding package for children’s mental health services.” The Legal Assistance Center will work with Clark County, Sisolak and others to develop a package and final recommendations to improve mental health care for young people will be submitted to the Finance Commission in October, Lee said. I was.
Pitlock describes the package as a way to create an “interwoven system of service and support,” giving families more options for accessing help.
Commission members likewise expressed the urgency to invest in these programs and services, noting the historical lack of support for such mental health resources.
“Children’s mental health is at stake in this state. It’s been a while,” said Rep. Maggie Cartron (D-Las Vegas). “We can’t wait a year to get started. We need to start now. There is an opportunity. We have no intention of delaying you, we need to act now.”
Still, some members of the Finance Committee questioned how the program would be put together. Member of Parliament Robin Titus (Republican Wellington) brings up high vacancy rates across child and family services sectors, which he says are as high as 20% to 50% depending on the section of the sector, and expresses concern about filling new jobs. Did.
State mental health official Stephanie Woodard said the expanded position will expand the size of the workforce qualified to provide critical health care services, while increasing the number of currently employed clinicians and licensed providers. He said it would also reduce the burden on
State officials also indicated their intention to continue new programs and services, some of which were initially established with one-time federal funding. If they are well implemented, they are likely to be maintained by permanent funds allocated during the normal state budget process.
Public Health’s primary allocation primarily covers the construction and renovation of new and existing laboratories and health centers in northern and southern Nevada.
Most of that spending will be used to direct $75 million to UNR’s Nevada Institute of Public Health to build a new 55,000-square-foot facility adjacent to the existing facility.
Mark Pandoli, head of the National Laboratory, spoke of the need to have state-of-the-art laboratories and emphasized the ability of such facilities to detect the spread of infectious diseases. He also said Nevada is the only state that does not have a state-level toxicology laboratory that can conduct opioid and drug tests.
UNR President Brian Sandoval hailed the assignment as a “historically significant investment in the future of Nevada’s public health.”
“Nevada’s scientific and public health communities will work together in this new, modern and much-needed facility that will provide the state with a reliable public health resource for future generations,” Sandoval said in a statement.
As part of the $151 million item for public health facilities, legislators will invest $30 million to build a public health laboratory in southern Nevada, operated by the University Medical Center, and an academic medical center to UNLV’s School of Medicine. approved $40 million to build the , and $3 million each. UNR School of Public Health and UNLV School of Public Health.
“[The academic health center] Bailey Boltrin, the governor’s deputy chief of staff, said:
The Commission also approved the allocation of $20.8 million to the Public and Behavioral Health Division to provide targeted grants to local public health agencies.
A portion of these funds will be used to create a new Central Nevada Health District to serve residents of Pershing, Eureka, Mineral and Churchill counties. With the districts created, legislators also approved a waiver that would exempt these counties from having to pay assessment fees for public health services provided by the Department of Health and Human Services.