Officials say that providing a comprehensive system of care will not only allow the state to better help children with behavioral health needs but will also lessen then need for services through the Division for Children Youth and Families as well as the juvenile justice system. “Residential treatment services vitally help children and young adults with severe emotional disturbances,” said Erica Ungarelli, director of the DHHS Bureau for Children’s Behavioral Health, noting that children and youth have unique mental and behavioral health needs. “The expansion of residential treatment for children and youth is a critical step in the establishment of the system of care,” she said. Joe Ribsam, director of the DHHS Division for Children, Youth and Families, said: “Children whose severe mental health needs are not adequately addressed in the community have too often ended up involved with DCYF.”
Additional contracts with remaining residential treatment providers are expected to be submitted for the governor and council’s consideration in the coming weeks. The press release said the new contracts will expand clinical services, ensure each provider has a trauma model through which services are delivered, establish programs that target special treatment needs and create partnerships with community providers to determine when residential treatment is clinically appropriate.
“This represents another step in our work to rebuild New Hampshire’s mental health system, and to ensure Granite Staters, especially children and youth, have access to appropriate behavioral health services within our state,” said Gov. Sununu. “DHHS continues to advance these critical services by breaking down silos and building a comprehensive, integrated, and evidence-based system that works for our children and families.” In reporting the decision, DHHS officials said expanding the system of care to include intensive residential treatment services throughout the state advances the goal of ensuring better long-term outcomes for youth.
By making residential treatment services more widely available and expanding mobile crisis and wraparound support for families as was also recently approved by the state, Ribsam said, “Our goal is to provide children, youth and families with the help they need before there is a need to engage with the state’s child protection and juvenile justice systems. These new services also ensure that New Hampshire’s residential services are enhanced to align with the federal Family First Prevention Services Act.”
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