New Hampshire House approves funds for DCYF, mental health services

Monitor staff
Published: 5/3/2018 5:12:31 PM

A pair of bills intended to shore up funding for the state’s Division for Children, Youth and Families and mental health services passed the House Thursday – but only after significant reductions from what the Senate had originally approved.

Senate Bills 592 and 590 will go back to the Senate after voice votes in the House. The first, SB 592, would add more than 30 new positions to DCYF, which has been shaken by a pair of high-profile deaths of children under its watch. The bill contains more than $4 million intended to help restore services, reduce workloads and prevent future child fatalities.

SB 590, meanwhile, includes $5.4 million to provide services to cut down on the developmental disability waitlist; currently hundreds in the state are awaiting admissions to program. Half of that would come from federal money.

The bills are intended to address what has been a growing backlog for both family services and mental health care in the state, But many of the funds were reduced from their original intended levels by the House Finance committee. That committee, led by Rep. Neal Kurk, R-Weare, found a unique funding mechanism for both bills: excess revenue from the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program that came through after a congressional spending bill in February.

The bills will head to the Senate, which could vote to concur or force it to a committee of conference if it wanted to negotiate higher funds. Gov. Chris Sununu has expressed strong support for the legislation, praising them in a statement Thursday morning.

“We are making great strides forward, but more work is needed and that is why Senate Bills 590 and 592 are so critical,” he said. “I’m also pleased that we are making critical investments to our foster care system, restoring critical voluntary services for families, reducing the developmental disabilities waitlist and supporting our student loan repayment program.”

(Ethan DeWitt can be reached at edewitt@cmonitor.com, or on Twitter at @edewittNH.)

  




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