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Report: Spending On Child Behavioral Health Lopsided In NM

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The state spent almost half its 2015 child behavioral health dollars on expensive outpatient programs that have not been shown to be effective, according to a report presented to lawmakers Wednesday.

New Mexico is spending an average of $60,000 per child per year to send around 200 kids with severe behavioral health issues like PTSD to psychiatric hospitals and other away-from-home treatment centers, according to the report authored by the New Mexico Human Services Department, Children Youth and Families Department and Legislative Finance Committee.

It says there’s no evidence sending kids away for treatment works, and that lopsided spending is taking funding away from early childhood prevention programs like the Nurse Family Partnership and First Born, which have been proven to give effective behavioral health services to more kids for less money.

The report recommends spending more on those efforts. It also says New Mexico needs to keep better data on childhood programs to be able to track whether kids are able to access help when they need it. 

This week lawmakers were presented another report that found serious problems with how the state deals with domestic violence victims, including a lack of services for children affected by domestic violence.


Ed Williams came to KUNM in 2014 by way of Carbondale, Colorado, where he worked as a public radio reporter covering environmental issues. Originally from Austin, Texas, Ed has reported on environmental, social justice, immigration and Native American issues in the U.S. and Latin America for the Austin American-Statesman, Z Magazine, NPR’s Latino USA and others. In his spare time, look for Ed riding his mountain bike in the Sandias or sparring on the jiu-jitsu mat.
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