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Gov. announces proposal for mental health needs

Governor Rick Scott said he will propose $19 million in recommended budget

Gov. Rick Scott discusses 2015-2016 budget.
Gov. Rick Scott discusses 2015-2016 budget.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Gov. Rick Scott says he will push to spend more money on mental health and substance abuse programs.

Scott's office announced on Monday that the governor will call for spending an additional $19 million next year on several programs aimed at helping both adults and children suffering from mental health illnesses and drug addictions.

This includes $12.8 million for Community Behavioral Health Services, $3.7 million to add more Community Action Treatment (CAT) teams and $2.8 million to expand Family Intensive Treatment (FIT) teams.

The Department of Children and Families had already called for the spending increase in budget recommendations the agency submitted last week to the Florida Legislature. Legislators will consider Scott's request during the annual session that starts in January.

Scott said in a statement the funding is intended to help people in their communities instead of having them placed under the custody of the state.

The governor said he wants to change how mental health services are delivered in Florida.

The funding will support the efforts outlined in Executive Order 15-175 that Governor Scott issued earlier this month to better coordinate mental healthcare services across Florida.

"It is critical that we do all we can to help individuals and families affected by mental illness and substance abuse in our state," said Governor Scott. 

Governor Scott said the funding will work side-by-side with the pilot projects that Department of Children and Families Secretary Mike Carroll is conducting in Broward, Alachua and Pinellas Counties.

Those projects review services at the local level to understand how to better coordinate care across the state.

"We want Florida to be the best state for families to live their dreams and we have to get better at supporting individuals and families affected by mental illness and substance abuse in their communities, instead of in the custody or supervision of the state," said Governor Scott.

The proposed funding for Community Behavioral Health Services will do the following, according to Governor Scott's office:

  • Work to support individuals with mental health needs in their communities instead of in custody or under supervision of the state.
  • Help transition individuals with mental health needs from state facilities back to their communities so they can get the skills, support and training they need to lead more productive and independent lives.
  • Strengthen counties to work with local entities, law enforcement and non-profit organizations to better serve individuals with behavioral health needs.

The proposed funding for CAT teams will do the following, according to Governor Scott's office: 

  • Add five additional CAT teams in communities that do not currently have them.  CAT teams provide comprehensive treatment to youth with significant behavioral and mental health needs so care can be received in communities.
  • It is estimated that an additional 395 families will be served with this funding.

The proposed funding for FIT teams will do the following, according to Governor Scott's office:

  • Expand FIT teams to six additional counties that have high numbers of verified abuse and neglect reports related to substance abuse. FIT teams provide intensive team-based, family-focused services to families in the child welfare system with parental substance abuse.
  • It is estimated that an additional 280 families will be served by the expanded FIT teams.

Click here to view Executive Order 15-134 signed by Governor Scott in July.