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What will expanded HealthSteps program do in New York?

Governor Kathy Hochul has announced the allocation of over $17.7 million to expand HealthySteps, a program designed to integrate mental and physical healthcare for young children within pediatric settings.

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Administered by the state Office of Mental Health, this funding will enable the establishment of 46 new pediatric sites in 2023 and aims to extend the program to 224 sites by 2027. This initiative is part of Governor Hochul’s comprehensive plan to bolster mental health care in New York.

HealthySteps is an evidence-based program that integrates child development specialists with pediatric physicians to offer holistic care for children up to the age of three and their families. With pediatricians often being the primary contact for new caregivers, this approach not only addresses early childhood behavioral issues but also reduces the stigma associated with mental health treatment. The program’s expansion prioritizes counties with high child poverty rates and those lacking such facilities, ultimately aiming to serve approximately 354,000 children across the state.

The program, established in New York in 2016, has demonstrated significant impact, with the initial 17 sites providing comprehensive services to over 9,000 children and their families. These sites have conducted thousands of maternal depression screenings and made numerous referrals to necessary services. The recent funding is part of Governor Hochul’s landmark $1 billion initiative to enhance mental health care, which includes additional provisions like expanding mental health services in schools and closing gaps in insurance coverage for mental health care services. This holistic approach underlines New York’s commitment to addressing mental health needs from early childhood, ensuring a foundation for healthier future generations.