FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  January 10, 2023

JCCA On Governor Hochul’s Plan to Fix NYS Continuum of Mental Health Care: Solid Plan Must Be Expanded to Better Meet Needs of Most Underserved Children with Highest Levels of Need for Care

Ronald E. Richter, Chief Executive Officer, JCCA, a child and family services nonprofit, issued the following statement on the mental health needs of New York’s children, in response to Governor Hochul’s just-released mental health plan:

“JCCA commends Governor Hochul on the state’s new mental health plan, particularly for its focus on expanding school-based and community clinics and inpatient beds and improving hospital discharge planning to meet the huge demand. However, children with the most acute needs—those who have been impacted by the greatest traumas— may continue to fall through the cracks of the system. We hope to work with the Hochul Administration to address this.

As the Governor points out, nearly half of children aged 3 to 17 in New York with a mental health or behavioral condition did not receive treatment or counseling in 2021. This is a staggering statistic, and one that is especially concerning for young people who are part of the child welfare and juvenile legal systems. At JCCA, we see these children daily: their mental health has been greatly impacted in the past few years, and the systems they are part of are often no longer able to meet some of their needs.

At our residential facility in Westchester, we are seeing children with a higher level of acuity than ever before.  Our staffing ratios and program models are not designed to currently meet their needs.  That can change, but only with regulatory reforms and increased funding.

Beyond that, we need to ensure we can find placements with the right level of services and supports for children whose behavioral and emotional needs are so severe that even residential programs like ours can’t support them.  We have so few options in New York State for these children that we must consider placements as far away as the state of Georgia—to the detriment of children as well as their families.

Governor Hochul is right – more must be done to alleviate the mental health crisis afflicting New Yorkers. A truly comprehensive package of investments and policy changes must ensure every New Yorker gets the help they need.”