Invest in Rhode Island Children and Families!

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Rhode Island Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio:

Children are our state’s future. As someone who cares about the safety and wellbeing of children, I urge you to invest in our most vulnerable children and families through the 2019 state budget.  Two critical areas for your support are:

1)Pass Voluntary Extension of Foster Care to 21!

In 2007, the state cut foster care services to youth age 19-21 as a cost savings measure.  Vulnerable young people are now left without any guarantee of housing or access to supports and services.  Article 15 of the  proposed budget and bills H7110/S2022 would create a new voluntary program for youth to continue to have access to care to age 21, decreasing the likelihood of their substance addiction, early parenthood, or incarceration.  Please support Voluntary Extension of Care!

2)Increase funding to the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) by $15 million for FY 2019!

RI children are at risk. Rhode Island DCYF has responsibility for the three critical areas of state government: protection of children and youth from abuse and neglect, responsibility for all children with severe emotional disturbance, and juvenile justice. The DCYF budget has been steadily cut back from over 300 million in 2007 to a low of 209 million dollars. 

DCYF needs more resources to address increasing reports of child abuse and neglect, care for increasing numbers of children entering foster care, and assist children and families impacted by the opioid epidemic.  DCYF needs additional resources to provide mental health care for children and youth.  RI has the highest rate of teen depression in the country, according to Blue Cross/Blue Shield data, however, Rhode Island Kids Count found that 55% of RI children and youth are unable to access mental health care.  At the same time pediatric hospitalizations for mental health are increasing.

The more than 2000 children in care and thousands of RI children and families across Rhode Island in need of support, treatment, and protection are counting on you to adequately fund our state children’s system.  Please increase funding for the DCYF budget by $15 million!  Thank you.