A National Children's advocacy group is asking a Federal judge to block Governor Jodi Rell's decision to suspend new intakes to a treatment program for children with severe mental health needs. WNPR's Ray Hardman has more:
The Voluntary Service Program was created in 1991 to fulfill a court ordered consent decree imposed on the state Department of Children and Families. Jeanne Milstein is the state's child advocate. She says the program is crucial when a child's mental health needs exceeds traditional services available to parents and caregivers:
"It is often the last resort for many families when these programs no longer take children. There will likely be an increase in the number of chilren requiring crisis intervintion, there will certainly be an increased demand for emergency mobile psychiatric services, and there will be an increase in the burden on emergency rooms."
Late last month, Governor Jodi Rell used her executive power to suspend new intakes to the program in an effort to reduce Connecticut's $466 million budget deficit. New York based Children's Rights filed an emergency motion Tuesday in U.S. District court to block the cut. Ira Lustbader is the Associate director of Children's Rights. He says cutting new intakes to the Voluntary Services Program puts the Governor in contempt of the 1991 consent decree:
"It requires the state to provide for the service needs for what are called at-risk children. The children in this program are by definition at risk, and there's no other help for these kids. It's just a square violation of obligations that the state's been living under for 18 years."
According to Children Right's, the Voluntary Services Program treats about 1,000 children daily.
For WNPR , I'm Ray Hardman.