As DC children and families experience high levels of emotional stress and trauma from the pandemic, the economic crisis and the pain underlying the recent protests and calls for racial justice, access to mental health services is more critical than ever. Unfortunately, Mayor Bowser’s proposed FY21 budget does not include funding to expand the school-based mental health program next year, and it makes significant cuts to spending on behavioral health services that would further restrict access to mental health services.
That’s why more than 200 organizations and individuals, including Children’s Law Center, ACLU of the District of Columbia, the DC Fair Budget Coalition and its members, the DC Health Matters Collaborative and the Early Childhood Innovation Network, among other community advocates, collaborated to publish this joint letter urging the DC Council to provide the full $4 million in funding needed to support the planned expansion of DBH’s school-based mental health program and restore the $9.4 million in funding cut from community behavioral health services.
Providing children and families with access to mental health supports is an essential part of DC’s response to the multiple crises our city is facing and must be prioritized in the budget accordingly. We urge the Council to take up this call to action, explore revenue opportunities to fund mental health supports, and ensure that the school-based mental health program and community provider behavioral health services are fully funded for FY21.