Eye On Illinois: Tempered optimism for new Children’s Behavioral Health Transformation Initiative

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Pardon my lack of optimism.

On the surface, this open from a Capitol News Illinois story is encouraging: “Gov. JB Pritzker announced the launch of an initiative Friday to improve behavioral and mental health services for children.

“The Children’s Behavioral Health Transformation Initiative will help build a coordinated response between six state agencies in an effort to support children with behavioral health needs while increasing transparency in the process.”

But balance that encouragement against this CNI story from earlier that afternoon:

“For the seventh time in 10 weeks, a Cook County judge found Illinois Department of Children and Family Services Director Marc Smith in contempt for failing to comply with a court order.

“DCFS was ordered by a judge in March 2021 to move a 16-year-old boy who has low intellectual functioning and cognitive delays from his temporary shelter to a placement to meet his needs, according to the Cook County Public Guardian’s Office, who represents the boy in court.

“Despite a court order entered a year prior and the agency’s own recommendation for a residential placement appropriate for him and his abilities, the boy remains in a temporary placement,” the Public Guardian’s Office said.

Anyone who has encountered state services for children with behavioral or mental health challenges knows there’s room for improvement. It’s promising to see a proposed state budget funneling $50 million in federal funds to the Department of Human Services for such programs and $150 million to fully implement Pathways to Success, a program for children with serious mental illness.

“Our children are our greatest treasure and not one of them should fall through the cracks because of an antiquated system that is too small and too slow to fit the scope of their needs,” Pritzker said.

I fully agree and am glad to see action (and money) behind those words. But kids aren’t just falling through cracks. It’s a full-blown crisis. I’ll celebrate results when warranted. Until then, optimism is but a thin salve.

ON THIS DAY: “No person shall be precluded or debarred from any occupation, profession or employment (except the military) on account of sex.” The Illinois General Assembly enacted a law with that language 150 years ago today, becoming the first state to prohibit gender-based employment discrimination. The law was a response to the plight of Myra Bradwell, a Chicagoan who passed the Illinois bar exam in 1869 but was denied the right to practice law. Although the U.S. Supreme Court denied her request in 1873, it honorarily admitted her in 1892; the Illinois Supreme Court ceremoniously approved her original application in 1890. Bradwell was the founder of Chicago Legal News, and her legacy far exceeds the law marking its sesquicentennial, but that passage remains a significant milestone in state history.

Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media. Follow him on Twitter @sth749. He can be reached at sholland@shawmedia.com.

via Shaw Local

March 22, 2022 at 06:56AM

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