Final FY2021 Budget Sustains Most Behavioral Health Funding, Adds Investments
Statement from Debra L. Wentz, PhD, President and CEO
New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies, Inc.
On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans served each year by community-based providers of mental health and substance use treatment, the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies (NJAMHAA) is gratified that its budget advocacy message was heard, first as demonstrated by much sustained funding for, and investment in, mental health and substance use treatment services and supports in Governor Murphy’s FY2021 Revised Budget Proposal, and second, with the restoration of funding by the State Legislature to many programs that had been cut in the Governor’s revised budget.
NJAMHAA appreciates that the long overdue investment of $45 million in the Children’s System of Care that the Governor proposed was maintained by the Legislature in the final bill. Among the restored budget lines was $15 million for School-Linked Services, which includes the School Based Youth Services Programs serving students, families and communities in 90 schools across the State. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, children and youth are in need of the wellness, prevention and treatment services these programs provide more than ever. Other Department of Children and Families programs restored by the Legislature include the Child Collaborative Mental Health Care Pilot, Peer Recovery Support Services, Keeping Families Together and Substance Use Disorder Services, among others. Also restored by the Legislature was the 10% proposed cut to Charity Care for our heroic hospitals.
The pandemic’s impact on the mental health of both children and adults, including in many cases, new or increased substance use, will continue not only in the coming months, but for long after the public health emergency is behind us. The state’s support for mental health and addiction treatment and support services in the FY2021 budget, along with $25 million in federal Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) for providers to be reimbursed for personal protective equipment, cleaning, testing and other pandemic related costs, and $50 million from the CRF for behavioral health treatment services, are all critical to meet the ever increasing needs of New Jerseyans and NJAMHAA is grateful to the Administration and Legislature for recognizing these needs.
The New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies, Inc. (NJAMHAA) is a statewide trade association representing 153 members that serve New Jersey residents with mental illness and/or substance use disorders, and their families. Our members may be found in every county and almost every community statewide. They serve more than 500,000 children and adults each year and contribute to the economy through 61,000 direct and indirect jobs. NJAMHAA’s mission is to promote the value of its members as the highest quality behavioral healthcare providers for the residents of New Jersey through advocacy and professional development.