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FY13 Budget Testimony: Department of Mental Health

April 26, 2012

Children’s Law Center Executive Director Judith Sandalow testified before the DC Council Committee on Health at a budget hearing for the Department of Mental Health. Read a summary of her testimony below or review her full testimony (PDF).

Although there were some small increases to several children’s programs and $815,000 for the recently passed South Capitol Street Memorial Amendment Act, the current budget does not come close to meeting the need for mental health services in the District. A comparison to national data suggests that 5,000 children in DC who need these services don’t get them. And many of the approximately 6,000 children who do receive mental health care are not getting the most appropriate treatment. Meeting this need requires more than money; it requires structural change to address the fragmented system that keeps high-quality providers out of the District. After making these reforms, some investment may be required – but currently, DC is paying a much more substantial cost in the special education, foster care, and juvenile justice budgets.