HF Launches $4.6 Million Initiative
RFP Offers Bridging Grants for Texas Mental Health Services
January 1, 2005
A new $4.6 million grantmaking initiative to help mental health service providers in Texas bridge short-term funding gaps has been announced by the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health.
The Hogg Foundation's Special Mental Health Services Initiative seeks proposals from non-profit mental health organizations (public and private) that currently provide direct mental health services to children, adults, or families. One-year grants of up to $100,000 will be awarded based upon the strength of the applicant's plans for maintaining, restoring, or refocusing direct services to specific target populations of consumers in Texas. Proposals must be postmarked no later than January 31, 2005.
The Hogg Foundation's special initiative responds to recent state policy changes and funding cuts that have created significant pressures on local public and private non-profit mental health organizations and services, said King Davis, executive director of the Hogg Foundation.
"State budget reductions to the public mental health system and reductions in Medicaid rates and the reduction or loss of CHIP mental health benefits have constrained the capacity of the state mental health service providers to maintain service levels, while private non-profit mental health organizations have been unable to keep pace with the demand for clinical services," Davis explained.
At the same time, Davis said, public mental health service providers are struggling with their transition to rules set by the 78th Texas Legislature that restricted the public system to treating only three specific diagnoses (bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and clinically severe depression), or clients in crisis. This restructuring has raised many concerns across the state, particularly in areas that have seen significant decreases in access to clinical services.
Davis noted that a second source of pressure has been the reallocation and redistribution of public mental health services by the legislative designation of specific diagnoses that qualify for treatment.
Adults with psychiatric disorders other than the three specified diagnoses (bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and clinically severe depression) fall outside the priority population and will receive publicly-funded services only when they are in crisis or when service providers have surplus funds. News articles and public commentary in a number of cities and rural areas have raised concerns over this new pattern of service provision, particularly where major decreases have occurred in the quantity of clinical services available.
"Our goal with this Special Mental Health Services Initiative is to provide agencies and organizations with short-term financial support for direct service delivery during this period of declining and uncertain funding," Davis said.
Funding under the SMHSI will be available statewide, including rural and urban areas, with efforts made to ensure that each region of the state receives funding. The Houston/Harris County region will be eligible for approximately $1.5 million solely for direct mental health services to children and families, in accordance with the wishes of the foundation's benefactor. Public and private nonprofit organizations that provide direct mental health services for DSM IV diagnoses are encouraged to apply. Examples of organizations include local school systems, community mental health centers, child guidance clinics, hospitals, and criminal justice (adult and juvenile) facilities.
Application eligibility is limited to nonprofit mental health organizations that are exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code, governmental agencies, or institutions of higher learning. All applicants must consider that the grant applications will be evaluated on the strength of their plans for maintaining, restoring, or refocusing direct services to specific target populations of consumers in Texas.
To manage the SMHSI, the Hogg Foundation hired Debbie Berndt as a temporary senior program officer through the spring, 2005. She will have principal responsibility for implementing and managing the Special Mental Health Services Initiative and assisting the Foundation in ongoing discussions with public and private groups in Houston/Harris County that focus on developing a long-term plan for meeting the mental health needs of children and families.
As a former director of children's services for the former Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation, Berndt has considerable experience in children's mental health services. Her career highlights include serving as a senior policy analyst with the Texas Commission on Children and Youth, and a public policy specialist and consultant with the Mental Health Association of Texas.
In addition to the special request for proposals, Davis said that the Hogg Foundation is also expanding its existing outreach services to offer specific assistance to non-profit (public and private) mental health organizations in their efforts to obtain alternative funding or to redesign their current local service delivery systems.