More Links in News & Events

Statement from Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter Regarding Governor Perdue's Decision to Cut Necessary Funding for Children's Mental Health Services

I am shocked by the announced $8.4 million dollar cut in funds for mental health services for children in the state of Georgia, particularly considering the current crisis state mental health services face.

When Governor Perdue announced the creation of the Mental Health Service Delivery Commission in August 2007, the mental health community was hopeful that he would take personal leadership responsibility to rectify the issues that plague the mental health system in Georgia. Resources for children's mental health are being reduced before the Children's Subcommittee of the commission has released its final recommendation report. The proposed funding cut for children's mental health services calls into question both the credibility of the commission and the gravity with which the crisis at hand is being addressed by state leadership.

When surveyed about what they would like policymakers to know, 21 youth mental health services agencies stated emphatically that children are being hurt by the current delivery system and changes are needed to adequately provide for Georgia's youth. Georgia's Mental Health Planning and Advisory Council, a federally mandated council, conducted the survey, and the results justify the sense of urgency surrounding this issue felt by providers, consumers, and advocates alike.

The survey results, published on Feb. 26, 2008, reflect the extreme distress currently found in the children's mental health system. Agencies report serving 1,339 fewer youth than they did the year before the Department of Human Resources (DHR) Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Addictive Disorders (DMHDDAD) implemented fee-for-service and changed the levels of care upon which service and billing are predicated (Mancini & Baeszler, Failing the Children, 2008).

Furthermore, according to the report, all but four of the 21 agencies surveyed reported that they are losing money every month and may not be able to continue providing services to youth and families. Several reported closing programs such as day services and adolescent addictive disease units, among others, while others reported a reduction of staff due to monetary cuts. Many agencies reported that they serve youth and families by running up debt, and many have severely depleted or emptied their reserve funds doing so.

The current budgets allocated for children's mental health services clearly are not enough to provide for youth and their families in Georgia. Reducing these meager resources further is unconscionable and can only serve to exacerbate the problem. At this point, the mental health community is not even sure what the discrepancy is between the number of children who need services and those who receive them. Full accounting from the responsible agencies about the breadth of these issues is needed before any resources are diverted from the system.

I call on Governor Perdue to ensure that no mental health resources are re-directed from the mental health system as we face the tremendous challenges before us.

Donate Now

Sign Up For Email

Please sign up below for important news about the work of The Carter Center and special event invitations.

Please leave this field empty
Now, we invite you to Get Involved
Back To Top