Illinois Senate and House joint committee focuses on need to expand residential mental health services for children

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WMDB) — A joint Illinois Senate and House committee hearing on Wednesday focused on the need to expand residential mental health services for children.

State Sen. Laura Fine (D-Glenview) said the pandemic has brought kids’ mental health issues to the forefront.

“This has been a crisis for a long time, but COVID put it into the spotlight, and now we have to take our time and get it done right for the children of the State of Illinois,” she said.

Dr. David Gomel, president and CEO of Rosecrance Health Network, said Illinois covers residential treatment for kids with addiction, but not for kids with primary mental health issues.

“This is a critical gap in our system of care. Because of this gap, kids spend unnecessary times in hospitals waiting for beds where they are sent to out-of-state providers far from their families and support systems,” he said.

Gomel said Rosecrance can only accept commercial insurance for residential mental health for children, leaving many that need help without resources.

“When kids don’t get treatment, they cycle through hospitalizations and crisis services [and] their behaviors escalate, they lose time in school, or they become involved with the legal system. All these options are bad for kids and their families, [and] are clinically inappropriate and are expensive for the state,” he said.

Gomel proposed a three-year, 12-bed residential treatment pilot study where the entire Rosecrance continuum of care is available. He said he expects to see a decrease in children using expensive services like the emergency room and crisis services.

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