Senator Feigenholtz partners with new Behavioral Health Officer to remove barriers for children with behavioral and mental health challenges

SPRINGFIELD – Families of children with behavioral health challenges that require mental health assistance have faced multiple barriers when seeking mental health assistance.

Working alongside Dr. Dana Weiner, the governor’s newly appointed Children’s Behavioral Health Officer, State Senator Sara Feigenholtz championed Senate Bill 724, which defines the Interagency Children’s Behavioral Health Services Act and lays out a roadmap to finally get children the help they need.

“The importance of this roadmap to appropriate treatment cannot be overstated,” said Feigenholtz (D-Chicago). “This work is transformative and will be a game changer for children’s behavioral health in Illinois.”

Senate Bill 724 would implement 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 the Illinois Departments of Human Services, Healthcare and Family Services, Children and Family Services, Juvenile Justice, and Public Health, and the State Board of Education.

Feigenholtz’s measure would create a centralized intake portal to manage information and provide parents with guidance and referrals to state and community-based programs for which they are eligible. It also broadens the supports and placements that community-based providers can offer to youth in crisis, creates a Parent/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.

The full report from the Children’s Behavioral Health Transformation Initiative can be found here. Senate Bill 724 passed the Senate and moves to the House for consideration.