A House committee signed off last week on a proposal to implement recommendations made earlier this year in the children’s behavioral health blueprint laid out by Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration.
The plan, sponsored by Rep. Lindsey LaPointe, D-Chicago, would create an interagency youth services team intended to improve service coordination and increase capacity to meet the demand for care.
The bill would create a centralized intake portal that could provide families guidance and referrals to state and community-based programs, establish a navigator assistance program and lay the foundation for an effort to provide annual mental health screenings to all K-12 students in the state.
The bill would also require a study of the current workforce shortages for youth mental health, adult mental health, substance use and developmental disability services.
Dana Weiner, a senior policy fellow at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago who Pritzker appointed to lead the initiative, told members of the House’s Mental Health and Addiction Committee that the bill “provides a strong foundation” to move forward with the blueprint’s goals.
“We recognize that this process will not be quick or easy, but in time — through strategically coordinated efforts — we believe we can improve the state’s ability to respond to the needs of children and adolescents,” Weiner said.
In other business, the committee approved a plan by Rep. Marcus Evans, D-Chicago, that would task the Department of Human Resources and the State Board of Education with collaborating on ways to improve the availability of student mental health resources. Evans said the proposal aims to codify existing efforts by the two agencies and complement work by the childhood behavioral health initiative.
The bills head to the full House for further consideration.