Magazine article Behavioral Healthcare Executive

How to Promote Human Service Programs

Magazine article Behavioral Healthcare Executive

How to Promote Human Service Programs

Article excerpt

Weve all heard this question before: "When government starts to cut budgets why do they always start with human service programs?"

Human service programs need money to serve a population that desperately requires mental healthcare and/or substance abuse treatment. That money comes overwhelmingly from state governments' budgets-budgets that are often stretched to meet competing demands. For instance, in Illinois in fiscal year 2014, 39.7% of Illinois' General Revenue Funds were spent on human services or healthcare.

Human services programs need a better defense: namely, offense.

We who work in the field of human services often do a poor job of promoting what we bring to the table in terms of contributing to the state and our communities beyond services delivered to our clients. And too often, we bear the brunt of criticism from anti-tax groups and public officials when the discussion turns to tax increases to pay bills for properly funding essential human services.

Too often the business community leads the charge. They oppose tax increases and promote budget cuts that undermine providers. We hear routinely that human service providers are "tax eaters," "negative balance lines in state budgets," and a "black hole," of taxes. Enough already.


Let's look at the reality. Examine what human service providers bring to the table for the state and in local communities and what we should be highlighting to policy makers, anti-tax groups and the business community.


1 We provide many of the services we do because in the past, policymakers determined it was more cost effective to contract with the private sector than to have those services delivered by the government. And we have proven that fact. We deliver services more efficiently than government can, which means we save tax payers money.


2 Not only do we deliver services more efficiently, we have proven that we can deliver better and more human-centered, community-focused care than government institutions.


3 Without our work, the alternative is for individuals struggling with behavioral health or medical issues to turn to the most expensive treatment options, such as hospital emergency rooms. Or, worse, they end up in correctional systems because of untreated mental health or substance use disorders, costing taxpayers a king's ransom over the cost of services delivered by community providers.

Ask your business friends what is the best business model: emergency room care and institutional correctional system, or community care providers? …

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