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New York is first state in nation to use program to assist at-risk youth who have not responded well to traditional treatment
Gov. Kathy Hochul announced $21 million in funding awards for 15 Youth Assertive Community Treatment teams. New York is the first state in the nation to enact such teams, which serve children ages 10 to 21, and their families, providing services and support in the home and community settings. Hochul’s camp said, “The teams allow young people who are at risk of entering residential or inpatient psychiatric treatment to receive services while remaining with their families and in their communities.”
Hochul said, "When at-risk young people are suffering from hardships, it is imperative that families stay together. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, New York is leading the way in developing new and innovative ways to provide behavioral health care to vulnerable individuals. With the help of this new program, children across the state will have the opportunity to remain with their families and receive the services they need."
The Youth ACT team in Western New York is Child and Family Services, serving Erie & Niagara counties, a 48-slot team.
OMH Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, "We are very proud at OMH to be the first state mental health agency in the nation to modify the successful adult ACT team model and use it to serve young people and their families. The pioneering teams we are funding and developing will provide services to at-risk young people when and where they need it most, and help them stay in school and develop the skills they can use to lead successful and independent lives."
U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke said, "When our young people are suffering with mental health issues and facing additional barriers that prevent them from getting the support and treatment they need, the onus is on us, their elected officials, to ensure they find the right solutions to help them overcome these difficulties. Similar to my work as a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee when I helped introduce The Latonya Reeves Freedom Act, a crucial piece of legislation to prohibit discriminatory practices against individuals with disabilities who need long-term services and supports (LTSS), so too must we join hands to codify existing laws and strengthen the rights of young New Yorkers with disabilities, including mental health disorders, in a setting that supports the delivery of adequate treatment services and promotes healing.
“Thanks to the NYS Office of Mental Health and Governor Hochul's commitment to help our young people and their families overcome the difficulties accessing the right mental health treatment, that obligation is being fulfilled. Today's funding announcement, which I wholeheartedly support, will provide our state's revolutionary Youth Assertive Community Treatment teams with the resources they need to keep our kids healthy in their own homes, and in their community."
U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko said, "The pandemic took an unprecedented toll on the mental health of countless people, and few have felt that burden more than our kids. From the very beginning of this crisis, I pushed to ensure that we support our children, young adults and all Americans, and I was proud to help secure vital funding for the CMHS block grant and FMAP programs to provide that assistance. I thank Gov. Hochul for her dedication to understanding and addressing the hidden costs of this crisis and providing support to our communities."
Chairwoman of the Niagara County Legislature Rebecca Wydysh said, "Meeting the psychiatric needs of youth can be a difficult challenge. I applaud New York state for trying Youth ACT teams to address this need. I'm a firm believer that keeping young people in their most familiar settings while receiving treatment offers the best chance of success."
Nearly $15 million in funding is annual and will be provided through state-aid and Medicaid reimbursements, and $6 million is one-time start-up funding from the federal government provided through the time-limited expansions of the Community Mental Health Services (CMHS) Block Grant and Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) programs. Additional funding for those programs was allocated under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act and the American Rescue Plan Act.
Youth ACT team providers are not-for-profit agencies that have experience providing mental health services to persons with serious emotional disturbance. They will create and oversee the ACT teams, which are multidisciplinary with professional staff including psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, mental health clinicians and peer advocates.
President and CEO of Child & Family Services Elizabeth McPartland said, "Child & Family Services is excited to work in partnership with Erie and Niagara counties to provide this life-saving intervention for children and their families. We recognize the critical need to stabilize the mental health of children so they may flourish in their homes and schools, and reduce higher level interventions and placements. For 150 years, C&FS has worked to strengthen families, and we will continue to do so through ground-breaking programming such as Youth ACT."
Hochul’s team said, “By using a team approach, Youth ACT teams can deliver intensive, highly coordinated, individualized services and skilled therapeutic interventions to ensure the child and their family have the level of treatment and services to support their recovery. They are highly responsive and flexible to meet the individualized, changing needs of the child and family, and they offer support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“The development of Youth ACT represents a commitment by the NYS Office of Mental Health to increase access to services in the home and community for children and youth with mental health issues and their families. As the teams begin to treat clients, OMH will evaluate their effectiveness, and has formed a steering committee of researchers, clinicians, and family and youth partners to guide the evaluation and refine the model.”