Sarbanes Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Support Children’s Mental and Behavioral Health

Today, U.S. Representatives John Sarbanes (D-Md.), John Joyce (R-Pa.), Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.) and Carlos Gimenez (R-Fla.) introduced legislation to improve mental health outcomes for children and adolescents across the country by reauthorizing critical mental health and substance use programs through 2027.

In October, the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the Children’s Hospital Association declared a national emergency in child and adolescent mental health as COVID-19 exacerbated existing challenges. The Continuing Systems of Care for Children Act (H.R. 7248) would answer their calls for action by maintaining two programs that connect children and families to important mental and behavioral health services – the Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children with Serious Emotional Disturbances Program and Youth and Family TREE (Enhancement and Expansion of Treatment and Recovery Services for Adolescents, Transitional Aged Youth, and their Families) Grant Program – through 2027.

“COVID-19 revealed and exacerbated the unmet mental and behavioral health needs of our nation’s children and adolescents. We must bolster pediatric mental and behavioral health services to better support children now and in the future. I’m pleased to introduce this bipartisan legislation to expand access to programs that serve children’s individual needs and situations, improve their well-being and development and help them lead healthier, happier lives,” said Congressman Sarbanes.

“Ensuring that children and their families have access to the mental health care, support, and services they need are critical to protecting our youth and fostering healthy development,” said Congressman Joyce. “That is why I am proud to lead this legislation that would reauthorize key grant programs to help our most vulnerable youth receive the top-of-the-line care and treatment that they need. I am grateful to my colleagues for joining me in this important work and look forward to the swift passage of this legislation.”

“All families deserve the mental health services their children need to grow up healthy and thrive. Today, I joined Representatives Joyce, Sarbanes, and Gimenez to introduce the bipartisan Continuing Systems of Care for Children Act, which would fund community-based mental health care programs and expand initiatives to identify and provide support to young people at risk for substance use disorders. These critical investments will ensure kids and their families can access the care and support they need during this pandemic and beyond,” said Congresswoman Underwood.

Background:

The Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children with Serious Emotional Disturbances Program focuses on improving the mental health outcomes for children and youth, birth through age 21, with serious emotional disturbances (SED) and their families. This program supports the implementation, expansion and integration of the Systems of Care (SOC) approach by creating the sustainable infrastructure and services that are required as part of the Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children and their Families Program.

The Youth and Family TREE (Enhancement and Expansion of Treatment and Recovery Services for Adolescents, Transitional Aged Youth, and their Families) Grant Program works to enhance and expand comprehensive treatment, early intervention and recovery support services for children and young adults who struggle with substance use disorders and their families.