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Mental Health Update

Posted in:
January 20, 2023
Mental Health Update

Syracuse Post Standard Op Ed from MHANY Board Chair and Northern Rivers CEO, Bill Gettman about Child Welfare and Workforce

Bill’s strong messaging about child welfare and workforce issue resonates across the human service sector.

The devil is in the details and while the State of the State is aspirational, the NYS Budget can be inspirational or disappointing depending on what initiatives are funded.  This is where the rubber meets the road.  We are urging support for both child welfare funding and COLA in the Executive Budget

Glenn Liebman

(518) 434-0439 |

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To the Editor:

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s State of the State address serves as a statement of the administration’s values and priorities for the upcoming year. For those of us with boots on the ground in service to some of New York’s most vulnerable residents, it shows us the priorities of our leadership, and demonstrates the challenges we will face in the year ahead. Alternatively, the lack of content speaks volumes.

Given the critical needs of all New Yorkers and an outward migration, it is critical to invest in services, innovation and outcomes that improve the quality of life; protect adults, children, families and communities, and offer promise. The 277-page Blueprint outlines high level concepts – but does not address the operational and practical challenges that often undermine ultimate success. The document further omits needed responses related to workforce and child welfare.

Where is child welfare? Once again, the vitally important programs that protect children from violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect were left unacknowledged in this statement of values. The State of the State speech and briefing book did not contain any mentions of the vital services needed and provided for within the child welfare system. The workforce that showed up in-person every day during the darkest moments of the pandemic to provide 24/7/365 care and protection to children is every bit
as valuable and important to public health as other workers lauded for their bravery and heroism; yet this entire sector continues to be separated from other human services like mental health and healthcare when it comes time for adequate funding and respect. At the same time, there is no mention of child welfare improvements, innovation or investment. Given recent events across the region, it is time to invest in the quality of care and safety for children.

Who fulfills the mental health promise? An investment of $1 billion in our mental health system is an important step for all New Yorkers. But left unsaid is: Who will provide these life-changing services? Programs only work when they have a trained, experienced, stable workforce to implement and deliver them. In a sector battered by an unprecedented workforce crisis, where is the support to attract people to the field, compensate them fairly, and encourage them to stay in jobs where they make a
difference? A predictable and economically based cost of living increase (COLA) is crucial for our human service providers to keep up with inflationary pressures and to invest in the recruitment and retention of staff.

What is the best way to fight poverty? We are heartened to see substantial investments in mental health, childcare, and housing; all initiatives that help combat the devastating effects of poverty. Committing resources to some of the foundational issues that hold many New Yorkers will have a lasting impact and help give every New Yorker the chance to fulfill their promise. It can only occur if we have a ready workforce.

We eagerly anticipate the governor’s Executive Budget and hope to see real solutions to these challenges. Including an 8.5% Human Services COLA, funding child protective innovation and foster care rates, and investing in prevention services would signify that this administration truly is committed to moving New York forward.

William T. Gettman Jr.
Chief Executive Officer
Northern Rivers Family of Services

William T. Gettman, Jr.
Chief Executive Officer
Northern Rivers Family of Services
60 Academy Road | Albany, NY 12208
518.579.3500 (Office)