Mississippi is under fire for spending more childrens' mental health dollars on institutional care, rather than community-based care.
A report that's been sealed for two years is now refueling a conversation about change.
The report reveals that too many of the state's Medicaid Child Behavioral Health dollars are being poured into institutions. That's a concern shared by both advocates and even the Department of Justice.
They say research shows institutions aren't the answer for every child.
"It's sort of a vicious cycle," noted Families as Allies Executive Director Dr. Joy Hogue. "Cause if you can't find the kinds of services that really help your child in the community and things escalate and escalate and escalate, then you have no choice and your child ends up in an institution."
Dr. Hogue said that kind of care is expensive. Community based services can also be costly, but they're more likely to be effective and keep the children out of the system in the future.
"Even if you don't care about kids and I hope everybody listening does," noted Hogue. "But even if you don't, you should care about your money and you're going to spend more of your tax dollars on this cycling if we don't do something."
Governor Bryant has been clear on his position in all this.
He made a Facebook post saying that DMH isn't doing enough to provide patients with community based services so they can become active members of society.
Meanwhile, DMH put out a detailed response and said it has made improvements since the report was written three years ago.
Now, advocates like Families as Allies are hoping the report will spur real change and bring agencies, families, and all stakeholders to the table to end the cycle of institutional care.
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