Recommended Appropriations

Programs Serving Children and Youth:  $5.0 million

Introductory Note:  Click here to go to our statement of March 22, 2022, addressing the overlooking of children and youth by City officials and reaffirming the need for an appropriation of $5 million to services for children and youth.  Click here to go to an article, one of a series, in The New York Times describing "The Mental Health Crisis Among U.S. Teens".

A.  Youth Assessment Center:  $1.5 million

 

Our community needs a crisis and assessment center for children and youth analogous to that at 750 Towner in Ypsilanti for adults.  The center would provide a short-term, 24/7 place where children and youth can find emotional support and help.  It would be staffed by social workers and clinicians.  The center would be much less imposing and threatening than the waiting area of a hospital emergency room or the juvenile detention center.  Upon arrival clients would be offered food, a shower, fresh clothes if desired, and a safe place to rest.  It would receive clients by referral from first responders.  It would not be a “walk-in” facility.  The center should be a critical component of the City’s effort to increase the role of social workers and clinicians and decrease the role of armed law enforcement officers.

The National Assessment Center (NAC) Association has compiled best practices that should guide our work in Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County.   Putting much the same thing differently, we can quickly design an excellent center because we can easily access the experience of others.  The best practice standards of NAC include a) single point of contact providing awareness of, and access to, multiple service providers, b) screening and assessment that ensures services are "driven by a youth's needs, not driven by funding streams or the agendas of individual agencies," c) case management that coordinates and monitors multiple services and supports, d) staff support and development that advances and sustains "workforce effectiveness, resilience, and safety," and e) accountability to youth, families, and communities (source for standards).

 

County government, and particularly WCCMH within County government, is exploring a youth assessment center; click here for an update as of March 29, 2022, of this work.  The City should volunteer support to the County to enable this important project to move forward.  The City should appropriate funds to cover the costs of serving young residents of Ann Arbor in a crisis as well as appropriate funds for startup costs.  The City and County should place particular emphasis in the planning process on community engagement in places whose residents are disproportionately likely benefit from the services of the assessment center

 

This facility is an absolutely essential ingredient if we are to a) better serve the numerous young people enduring distress and crisis in the wake of COVID and b) do so with primary emphasis on help, comfort, kindness, and therapy rather than relying on punishment, isolation from society, and normalizing existence in the juvenile justice system.

 

B.  Youth and Family Resource Center:  $0.9 million

 

Children and youth — as well as parents, guardians, and others responsible for children and youth — should have a well-known point of contact for help when in distress or crisis.  This contact point should have a good working relationship with the Youth Assessment Center and might even be physically located in the Center.  In contrast to the Youth Assessment Center, the Resource Center would be a walk-in or call-in facility, that is, a referral would not be necessary to access its services.  The staff of the Resource Center would, on occasion, make referrals to the Assessment Center.

 

Ozone House operates a 24/7 crisis response line and offers associated services focused on serving youth in crisis.  Their staff would be an invaluable resource in the design of the Resource Center.  The County, City, and Ozone House might wish to explore a collaborative effort that goes beyond planning and into implementation

 

C.  Support Programs Serving Children and Youth:  $0.7 million

 

Lessening current isolation and undoing the effects of past isolation are important elements of needed programs — especially as the frequency and severity of COVID infections subside.

 

  1. Improve access to recreational and other extra-curricular activities through increased funding for scholarships and through conscious location of activities near vulnerable populations.  The programs of the Parks & Recreation Department of the City and the Rec & Ed Department of the AAPS are particularly important.

 

2.  Support for children and youth programs at neighborhood centers and other service centers beyond their Coordinated Funding

      Support if this is needed to fully serve the needs of the potential users.  This effort should give special attention to agencies

       and programs serving particularly vulnerable youth, e.g. LGBTQ, Black, Brown, and immigrants.

 

           3.  Ensure programs serving children and youth with substance use disorders have adequate funding.

 

D.  Collaborate with schools to address the mental health needs of children and youth:  $0.4 million

 

          1.  Programs emphasizing education, skill-building, and stigma reduction.

 

          2.  Ensure those charged with identifying children and youth who are especially at-risk as evidenced by school absenteeism,

                school performance, and the observations of teachers and school nurses have adequate resources to perform this task.

 

         3.  Link at-risk children and youth to neighborhood and youth centers and ensure these centers have the resources needed to

               serve these children and youth.

 

E.  Strengthen Programs To Divert Young People from the Juvenile Justice System To Therapeutic Support:  $1.5 million

 

In its recent report “Mental health services in Washtenaw County” (November 18, 2021) the highly respected staff of the Center for Health and Research Transformation (CHRT) recommended “Focus on youth programming …” and stated

 

“For families, continue to support and expand programs such as SURE Moms that provide peer support for parents and help shape relationships between police and communities while focusing on the needs of justice-involved youth.  Programming should coordinate more directly with public defenders (and others with important roles in existing system structures) to help connect people to mental health services.  Public defenders have existing relationships with families and can foster important connections for people who need services.” (See Attachment #9 in https://www.Washtenaw.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_12172021-1688)

 

This funding would allow the City to follow-up on CHRT’s recommendations in collaboration with the County.

Click here to go to Programs Supporting Unarmed Crisis Response:  $2.0 million

Click here to go to Programs Serving Households With A Member Living With A Mental Health Condition:  $4.0 million

Click here to go to Programs Supporting All Three High Priority Areas:  $4.0 million