A Response to Proposed Budget Cuts Affecting Children's Mental Health: Protecting Policies and Programs That Promote Collective Efficacy.
Children stand to lose if the federal government follows through on threats to cut funding for critical safety-net programs that have long supported families and communities. Although cuts directly targeting children's mental health are a great concern, cuts to policies that support health, housing, education, and family income are equally disturbing. These less publicized proposed cuts affect children indirectly, but they have direct effects on their families and communities. The importance of these services is supported by an extensive body of social learning research that promotes collective efficacy-neighbors positively influencing each other-shown to have positive long-term effects on children's development and adult outcomes. In this article, the authors describe two federal programs that by virtue of their impact on families and communities are likely to promote collective efficacy and positively affect children's mental health; both programs are facing severe cutbacks. They suggest that states adopt a cross-system approach to promote policies and programs in general medical health, mental health, housing, education, welfare and social services, and juvenile justice systems as a viable strategy to strengthen families and communities and promote collective efficacy. The overall goal is to advance a comprehensive national mental health policy for children that enhances collaboration across systems and strengthens families and communities, which is especially critical for children living in marginalized communities.
Hoagwood, KE; Atkins, M; Horwitz, S; Kutash, K; Olin, SS; Burns, B; Peth-Pierce, R; Kuppinger, A; Burton, G; Shorter, P; Kelleher, KJ
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