Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Jindal slashes mental health program for children

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s fiscal irresponsibility is causing real damage to people most in need of assistance from the state. For the fifth straight year the governor’s budget requires mid-year cuts to avoid a deficit, and he is inflicting the pain on children with behavioral problems.

Advocate reporter Michelle Millhollon pays attention to the irony of the governor’s actions in this story, which begins “At the same time Gov. Bobby Jindal is launching a study committee on school safety, his administration is cutting a program that helps children with behavioral health problems.”

Millhollon writes that the 76 employees of the Early Childhood Supports and Services program will be fired, and the program will “stop providing assessment, counseling and case management to young children in low-income families…”

In a prepared statement for The Advocate, Jindal brushed off concerns about the at-risk children, saying they should seek help from “pediatricians, family resource centers or nonprofit groups.”

The program, which serves children in six parishes, is supported by federal funds which the governor will shift to other areas of the state budget to forestall a looming $166 million shortfall.

Children who took part in the program were there because of “aggressive behavior, anxiety issues of post traumatic stress disorder,” Millhollon writes. Those are widely considered as danger signs that a child could grow up to become the kind of person who would go on a violent rampage like the one in Newtown, Connecticut.

If Jindal’s statement about seeking alternative sources of help seems insensitive, a comment from his Secretary of Health and Hospitals Secretary, Bruce Greenstein, is positively bizarre.

“My interest is to be able to provide the services not just to six parishes but across the state,” Greenstein told the reporter. This after cutting services to those six parishes without providing any more protection for children anywhere in Louisiana

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