JCCA Statement on the Governor’s State of the State Address and Investment in Mental Health

(New York, NY) — Ronald E. Richter, Chief Executive Officer of JCCA, one of New York’s most experienced child and family services organizations, issued the following statement in response to Governor Hochul’s 2024 State of the State address:

“JCCA thanks Governor Hochul for her commitment to youth and families, community health, and equal access to mental healthcare for all New Yorkers. We applaud her ongoing commitment to young people and their caregivers as we work to build a comprehensive continuum of care.

As one of the first providers to have a Youth ACT (Assertive Community Treatment) team, we applaud Governor Hochul’s commitment to expanding this innovative model to ensure that wrap-around services are available to more youth and families in crisis. Additionally, her promise to make school-based mental health clinics a pillar of New York’s broader mental health agenda is a step forward for our state’s children as they confront an unprecedented mental health crisis. In addition, we remain concerned that the Governor’s proposal may not reflect how critical it is for New York to fund these services at a rate that keeps pace with their cost. Unless we increase rates, staff turnover, i.e., workforce investments, will continue to dog New York’s ability to reduce adolescent mental health crises.

Like Governor Hochul, JCCA is committed to meeting the acute needs of children and teens in crisis and to supporting upstream interventions that proactively improve conditions for families in New York. We recognize the Governor as an outstanding ally in our work. We also acknowledge that the fiscal challenges for NYS are significant. So, it ends up being about advancing our values.

NYS should enhance its support of programs that improve outcomes for youth involved in the foster care system with the most severe mental health needs.  This will reduce future costs substantially and save lives.

Every day, we see children with a higher acuity level than ever before, and making placements with the right level of services and support for a number of these children has become nearly impossible. The Governor’s continued commitment to expanding psychiatric inpatient bed capacity under a multi-year expansion plan – adding 200 in 2024 – is critical, but we need to ensure that sub-acute beds are earmarked for children and adolescents with high needs. We look forward to working with the administration to support specialized placements for young people that are dual diagnosed with intellectual developmental disabilities and serious emotional disturbance. As our most vulnerable New Yorkers, these young people deserve our distinct focus. Those ready to leave residential care and return to their communities and homes also require comprehensive support in their communities, for them, their families, and their teachers.

Governor Hochul is right—more must be done to alleviate the mental health crisis in New York. We need a truly comprehensive package of investments and policy changes to ensure all New Yorkers, including children who have been removed by the government and who have the most acute needs, get the support that will make us proud.  The Governor will surely lead in this effort, and JCCA remains a staunch ally to her as she operationalizes her critical agenda.”