An Evolving Semi-Monthly Update on Community Behavioral Health in New York
August 1, 2013
On July 19, 2013, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the appointments of Courtney Burke (pictured left) as the administration’s new Deputy Secretary for Health, Laurie Kelley as the Acting Commissioner of the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) and Dr. Ann Sullivan to serve as the Acting Commissioner of the Office of Mental Health in November 2013. The Coalition congratulates all on their new appointments and looks forward to working with them in their new roles. The Governor plans to nominate both Ms. Kelley and Dr. Sullivan to serve as Commissioners of OPWDD and OMH, respectively, during the next legislative session. Their nominations are subject to confirmation by the New York State Senate.
Until Dr. Sullivan’s arrival at OMH in November, John Tauriello, Esq. will serve as Acting Commissioner of the agency beginning August 1, 2013. He takes over for Kristin M. Woodlock who left OMH at the end of July to join her family who recently relocated to New York City. The Coalition is grateful to Kristin who held the ship together and moved us forward with thinking and planning as behavioral health moves to managed care. We wish her the best in her new innovative ventures.
Best wishes to our colleagues John Tauriello in this interim period and Dr. Ann Sullivan when she takes over the helm at OMH.
A landmark and long awaited agreement was reached between the Cuomo Administration and plaintiffs on July 23, 2013, ending a 10-year lawsuit over the availability of appropriate housing options for 4,000 people with mental illness living in adult home facilities in New York City. The agreement will enable adult home residents to make an informed choice about moving to supported housing or other options in the most integrated setting appropriate to them.
According to the agreement, the State will dedicate a minimum of 2,000 supported housing units in the community for people with mental illness currently living in adult homes. This includes 1,050 units already being developed and operated by community providers in Brooklyn and Queens, plus additional units to be promulgated by OMH for development in Staten Island and the Bronx within two years. The agreement leaves open the possibility for additional housing development as needed. It stipulates that within the next four years, at least 2,500 individuals must be assessed by Health Homes or Managed Long Term Care Plans (MLTCPs), and all within five years. Health Homes and MLTCPs will work with housing providers to help coordinate and transition individuals from adult homes to supported housing in the community. The Coalition congratulates the Cuomo administration and the plaintiffs for reaching a settlement to allow adult home residents the choice to live independently in the City’s local neighborhoods and communities.
The NYC Coalition on the Continuum of Care (CCoC) a broad-based coalition of homeless housing and shelter providers, consumers, advocates, and government representatives working together to shape citywide planning and decision-making, has recently adopted a new meeting structure. While the entire CCoC Steering Committee has met as a whole each month, moving forward, meetings on alternate months will consist only of Steering Committee voting members. This will allow for more condensed discussion and decision making opportunities for the CCoC, and coalition members, like The Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies, will take on a greater responsibility in seeking input from their membership in advance of the smaller meetings as well as sharing content with them.
Besides being represented by Jason Lippman, Senior Associate for Policy and Advocacy, as a voting member on the NYC CCoC Steering Committee, The Coalition also serves on several of the Continuum’s standing committees. Jason is a co-chair of the Policy & Advocacy Committee, which works on issues related to HUD policies and regulations, as well as state and city government affairs. It identifies/actively engages in strategies to advocate for policies and legislation that impact CCoC providers and consumers. He also serves on the Continuum’s Strategic Planning Committee and recently joined the newly forming Performance and Quality Improvement Committee and the Governance Committee. Coalition members, look out for more CCoC news in your inboxes!
The Coalition submitted comments to Governor Cuomo’s office on two pieces of legislation dealing with problem gambling. The first bill would allow for OASAS to promulgate rules and regulations for gambling entities to post signs at their facilities on prevention and treatment of compulsive gambling. The second bill would require OASAS to provide a curriculum in problem gambling which may be offered in schools for grade levels four through twelve. Addressing problem gambling is especially important as New York State moves closer to legalizing casino gambling. Just this week, Governor Cuomo signed the Upstate NY Gaming Economic Development Act, which pending approval of a referendum this fall, will establish four destination gaming resorts in Upstate New York. While it looks like gambling will become even more accessible in New York State, the Act does propose adding funds for problem gambling through the imposition of annual fees on casino slot machine and table games. In addition, destination gaming resorts will be required to develop comprehensive problem gambling programs. Whether or not casino gambling comes to fruition in New York State, the issue of problem gambling is a serious public health and addiction matter, which must be tackled in far-reaching and culturally competent ways.
OASAS and OMH will conduct a joint public hearing on their Statewide Comprehensive Plans on August 27, 2013 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at 8 locations, linked by video conference, throughout the New York State. This hearing and the Statewide Comprehensive Plans it subsequently informs will address issues concerning the future direction of mental health and substance use disorder services and systems. Given the restructuring and shifts taking place in the behavioral health care system through initiatives from the Affordable Care Act and New York State Medicaid Redesign Team, the hearing will provide an opportunity for interested parties to share their ideas to improve the service system. If you would like to attend and/or testify, early registration is encouraged as capacity is quite limited. More details can be found on the web by following the aforementioned links. Last year’s plans and interim reports can also be viewed on the OASAS and OMH websites.
The Coalition joins our member, The Bridge, in honoring the memory of Murray Itzkowitz, who served as The Bridge’s first Executive Director from 1969-2000. As posted on The Bridge’s blog, “during his 31 years as Executive Director of The Bridge, through his unyielding commitment to our clients, Murray built The Bridge into one of the City's premier human service agencies for people with mental illness, substance abuse, the homeless and people with HIV/AIDS.” His extraordinary leadership, vision and commitment to serving people with behavioral health issues will indeed be missed.
Jason Lippman, Senior Associate for Policy and Advocacy of The Coalition, shares his “Point of View” in the July/August edition of the New York Nonprofit Press. The article focuses on issues related to the NY SAFE Act and its requirement that mental health professionals report people with mental illness, who are likely to harm themselves or others, to local authorities.
Congratulations to Carol Raphael on her new position as a Senior Adviser at Manatt Health Solutions, serving in its interdisciplinary policy and business advisory division. Ms. Raphael is a former President of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, a Coalition member. She is also a member of President Barack Obama's Commission on Long-Term Care.
Brooklyn Community Services has announced the retirements of its Deputy Executive Director Barry Newmark and Associate Executive Director Norma Martin after many years of exemplary service at BCS and to The Coalition. Newmark plans to leave BCS in August and Ms. Martin in September. More information on their incredible careers can be read about in the New York Nonprofit Press.
Traci Donnelly has joined The Child Center of NY as its new Chief Operating Officer. She will be responsible for ensuring the highest quality of services for the agency’s 18,000 children and youth served each year with programs in 70 locations throughout Queens and Brooklyn. Traci Donnelly is formerly a Senior Vice President and New York State Region Director at Phoenix House. You can read more about her appointment in the New York Nonprofit Press.
Jeff Foreman, Policy Director at Care for the Homeless, tells the tale of two New York’s and issues concerning wealth and poverty, how they are measured and the effects of austerity on the social safety net in the Gotham Gazette.
Safe Space NYC has signed a management agreement with Episcopal Social Services (ESS) that creates a partnership between the two organizations and lays the foundation for a complete merger. The partnership will bring both organizations under the same management structure, to be led by the current Executive Director of ESS, Elizabeth McCarthy. Together, this unified organization will serve New Yorkers in need from the North Bronx to Far Rockaway, working with over 20,000 people annually.
ANDRUS was awarded a $339,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to develop a comprehensive plan for the evaluation of the Sanctuary Model.Funding from the Foundation will also provide much needed capacity building of the fast growing Sanctuary Institute. Since its inception in 2005, the Sanctuary Institute has worked with close to 300 organizations in 27 states and 7 countries to help create trauma-informed organizational cultures.
Coalition Members advertise staff positions for free on The Coalition’s Job Board! Here's a sample: