Comprehensive plan to improve services for children with behavioral and mental health needs signed into law, thanks to Feigenholtz

SPRINGFIELD – To set forth concrete guidelines, supports and collaborations that will transform the way Illinois delivers high quality behavioral and mental health care to children and youth, State Senator Sara Feigenholtz championed the Interagency Children’s Behavioral Health Services Act, which was signed into law Friday.

“Families of children with behavioral health challenges seeking help have faced barriers for far too long,” said Feigenholtz (D-Chicago). “The evidence-driven solutions in this plan will create a more streamlined, accessible and responsive system of care for youth in Illinois.”

The plan implements recommendations from the Governor’s Behavioral Health Transformation Blueprint that was released in February. The initiative, which set out to research the current state of mental and behavioral health issues facing children in Illinois and develop recommendations to better help families, was spearheaded by Dr. Dana Weiner and Senator Feigenholtz in collaboration with experts and state agencies that currently serve youth and families.

Feigenholtz’s law creates a centralized intake portal to manage information and provide parents with guidance and referrals to state and community-based programs they are eligible for. It also broadens the supports and placements that community-based providers can offer to youth in crisis, creates a Parent and Guardian Navigator Assistance Program, increases transparency in staffing at residential and institutional facilities and lays the foundation for a plan to provide annual mental health screenings to all K-12 students in the state. Additionally, the law establishes a Children’s Behavioral Health Transformation Officer and Children’s Behavioral Health Services Team in response to the nationwide youth mental health crisis.

“The need for timely and appropriate care cannot be overstated – families and children need access to services now,” Feigenholtz said. “Soon, parents and providers will be able to rely on this legislation as a roadmap to finally get children the care they need.”

Senate Bill 724 was signed into law Friday and takes effect immediately.