It is easy to dismiss the budget cuts being considered by the Department of Public Health and Human Services as an easy way to save money. However, the latest round of proposed cuts to home support services and therapeutic foster care create a potentially serious situation when coupled with the drastic rate reduction for case management services. If the proposed cuts are finalized, it is questionable whether any organization will be able to provide these essential services. These cuts will negatively impact the health of our citizens for years to come.
Community services like therapeutic foster care and home support keep families together and help children overcome trauma. Eliminating these intermediate levels of care will lead to an increase in youth being unnecessarily referred to more expensive options such as emergency rooms, hospitals, and long-term residential treatment.
We understand that the Department of Public Health and Human Services needs to make immediate budget cuts. However, the intended funding changes affecting therapeutic foster care and home support services will result in cuts to community mental health that are far deeper than intended and will place our most vulnerable Montanans at risk.
The new proposed cuts to community mental health services have not been finalized, but providers have already been forced to make difficult decisions so that they can continue to provide desperately needed support to Montanans. Youth Dynamics has made difficult internal changes to limit expenditures, but we have not laid-off employees, cut services, or closed offices because we do not believe it is necessary at this time. Changes have not been finalized and we have too many staff, children, and families who are counting on us. We are searching for solutions so that we can continue to support Montana’s most vulnerable youth and families with these essential services.
As Chief Executive Officer of Youth Dynamics, I am still confident that we can work with the Department of Public Health and Human Services to build a budget that is both fiscally responsible and is not balanced at the expense of Montana’s most vulnerable.