But Leza Wainwright, director of the N.C. Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services, said the state has too many children living in group homes who might thrive in foster care, a more homelike setting that any mental health expert would recommend. “It's the right thing to do,” Wainwright said, noting that foster home kids still get outpatient therapy. “They're living with a family that has been specifically trained to meet their needs and they're getting other services. The essence is the same.”(Josh Shaffer, THE NEWS & OBSERVER, 7/21/09).
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Lawmakers are considering cutting back funding for North Carolina's therapeutic group homes – a move that would likely place hundreds of children into foster care. The homes currently serve more than 1,700 children with severe mental health needs, such as those with bipolar disorder or a history of reckless behavior. The state budget isn't final, but plans call for reducing funding by $15.8 million in the first year and $22.5 million more the next. That would trim about 40 percent of the teens now getting care at levels 3 and 4, among the higher categories, indicating children with severe behavioral or mental problems. Critics contend such a move would be short sighted, saying the homes are better prepared than foster parents to handle a violent breakdown. “The first thing they're going to say is you need to come get this kid. He's not going to be attacking my son,” said Donald Grantham, director of operations for Omega Independent Living Services. “These kids can amp out any time. A lot of these kids will be on the street.”