As NC proposes new mental health plan for youth in welfare system, Forsyth County asks for options

As NC proposes new mental health plan for youth in welfare system, Forsyth County asks for options

4:56pm Apr 08, 2022
The state of North Carolina is proposing a new plan to provide mental health service delivery for foster youth. Forsyth County commissioners discussed local efforts to address the issue during a meeting on Thursday, April 7, 2022. KERI BROWN/WFDD.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is proposing a new plan to address complex behavioral health needs for kids who come into the care of child welfare services. Forsyth County is asking the state for permission to opt out of the plan.

As part of its Medicaid managed care transformation efforts, the state intends to launch the Children and Families Specialty Plan.

The goal is to transform the way that child welfare, behavioral health and other systems that support children and families work together.

It includes several initiatives to address unmet mental health needs for kids in foster care. State officials say the number of children with these needs far exceeds the spaces and services available.

Under the proposal, a single entity would manage the services for foster youth in the Division of Social Services custody for all 100 counties.

But the change is raising some concerns. The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners recently sent a letter to state officials requesting to opt out of the statewide initiative.

Instead, they want to stick with Partners Health Management to oversee these services.

Forsyth County Deputy County Manager Shontell Robinson says they are pleased with the work that Partners is doing in the community and they want to keep the focus local.

"We do believe in the regional system and so we want to continue the positive trajectory that we have had with Partners,” says Robinson.

Some of the new programs that the county and Partners are working on together include plans to open an emergency transitional home for youth in DSS custody.

Robinson says the timing of the county’s letter expressing their concerns is important because the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee is expected to discuss the proposal on Tuesday.

Follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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