DMH had its funding cut – and laid off 100 case managers, stripping them from 3000 cases and adding those cases to the 350 remaining case managers. Once again, that is “throw the kids and the mentally ill under the bus.” There was already a huge wait for case management, and great difficulty getting DMH to commit to involvement with any of the legal orphans aging out of foster care I have represented. Where do these kids go when they turn 18 and are no longer entitled to the ‘loving care’ of children in child welfare custody [it used to be called DSS, now is called DCF, but nothing has changed].
If a foster child is mentally ill, then a DMH case manager was one of the few supports left when that child became 18. It takes a long time – months – feels like forever to get one assigned… already.
But wait! Now the remaining DMH case managers will all average 45 cases each. Optimal is less then 18 cases – and before this layoff, the norm was around 30 cases. See: http://www.boston.com/news/loc…
Mental illness is quite common in the population of children removed from families and placed into foster care – but never adopted. Some 59% of these young adults, our children, are depressed. The outcomes for these kids in the “loving care of the Commonwealth” currently is:
59% feel sad or hopeless almost every day
43% are pregnant at age 18,or have gotten someone else pregnant
30% had been threatened or injured with a weapon the previous 12 months
11 % reported sexual contact against their will within the last 12 months
54 % left state care and housing and were unemployed when told they were on their own
Of those who are employed, 47% were employed 20 hours or less, and only 10% received health insurance via employment
90% of those located and surveyed receive MassHealth
25% had been arrested within the prior 12 months
See Preparing Our Kids for education, Work and Life: A Report of the Task Force on Youth Aging Out of DSS Care, page 11. The full report can be downloaded at http://www.tbf.org/uploadedFil…
Myself, I would entitle this report “The Scandalous Failure to Prepare Wards of the Commonwealth for Safe, Effective Independent Living”.
Removing case managers from the mentally ill portion of this aging out foster care population, and generally making case management that accesses services for kids/young adults who cannot do so themselves almost impossible to get is not just wrong, but is one more factor turning a dire situation into a catastrophe for the most vulnerable of all citizens who depend solely on the State. Poor them.
In addition to the “school to prison” pipeline, I expect to see an expanded, ever faster, hospital and foster care to prison pipeline.
We can do better. We must do better. Choosing to cut case managers looks like maximizing harm from the 9C budget cuts to DMH.