December 5, 2023
Albany, NY

Governor Hochul Announces $17.7 Million to Expand HealthySteps Program Statewide

Governor Hochul Announces $17.7 Million to Expand HealthySteps Program Statewide

Program Partners Behavioral Health Specialists with Pediatric Primary Care Practices to Integrate Mental and Physical Health Care for Young Children

Governor Hochul’s Landmark Plan to Strengthen Mental Health Care Provides Additional $7 Million to Establish the Program at 46 New Pediatric Sites

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that more than $17.7 million was awarded to expand HealthySteps, an evidence-based program that pairs behavioral health professionals with pediatric teams to provide early childhood mental and physical health care in a pediatric setting. Administered by the state Office of Mental Health, the additional funding will help create 46 new pediatric sites next year, with a goal of expanding the program to 224 sites by 2027.

“Children experiencing social and emotional development issues are much more likely to have positive outcomes if they receive proper attention early on in life,” Governor Hochul said. “By pairing with trained child development professionals with pediatric teams, we can help New York families to address their child’s physical and behavioral health needs, achieve better outcomes, and reduce the stigma sometimes associated treating mental health issues.”

The Office of Mental Health awarded $7 million to establish 46 new sites in 19 counties and $10.7 million to expand 51 existing sites, with a goal of growing the program to serve roughly 354,000 children at 224 sites statewide by 2027. Counties with the highest percentage of children in poverty were prioritized for awards, as were counties still lacking a site.

HealthySteps is an evidence-based program that pairs pediatric physicians with child development specialist to provide universal services for children up to the age of 3 and their families in pediatric healthcare settings. Because pediatricians are often the first point-of-contact new caregivers have with the health care system, this environment can be less stigmatizing and conducive to identifying early childhood behavioral health issues.

Infants and their caregivers typically have seven pediatric visits within the first year of life, providing an early life opportunity to integrate mental health care for children at a critical time during their brain development. HealthySteps professionals serve as part of the primary care team and can offer families additional screenings and support for feeding, behavior, sleep, attachment, depression, social determinants of health, and adjusting to the complexities of a newborn child.

Established in New York in 2016, the first 17 sites funded through OMH received 30,000 visits and provided comprehensive services to more than 9,000 children and their families. These sites also completed thousands of referrals to needed services, conducted more than 15,000 maternal depression screenings, and distributed more than 18,000 books through Reach Out and Read, a national program that encourages families to read with their young children.

Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, “HealthySteps engages families in a friendly pediatric environment that places emphasis on both the child’s mental and physical well-being. Having a mental health practitioner available to work with families on behavioral health issues supports positive growth and development of our young New Yorkers. By expanding this program statewide, Governor Hochul is embracing a national evidence-based model that has proven results and demonstrating her steadfast commitment to address the mental healthcare needs of even the youngest New Yorkers.”

The funding to expand HealthySteps was among the youth-centered initiatives included in Governor Hochul’s landmark $1 billion plan to improve New York State’s continuum of mental health care. Adopted as part of the Fiscal Year 2024 Budget in May, the plan also includes $30 million to expand mental health services for school-aged children throughout the state, including $20 million for school-based mental health services and $10 million to implement wraparound services training.

The plan also closes gaps in insurance coverage that have posed a barrier to New Yorkers needing mental health care services. Among several critical changes, commercial insurance plans are now required to cover services provided in school-based mental health clinics.

Governor Hochul’s plan also provides a 25 percent increase in Medicaid rates for full-day school-based programs for young people with significant mental health challenges and for school-based mental health services provided by Article 31 licensed clinics serving children in pre-K, elementary and secondary schools. This additional funding will improve access to services and ensure close coordination between the clinics, schools, and families.

Contact the Governor’s Press Office

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Translations

الترجمة إلى العربية
বাংলা অনুবাদ
Traduction en français
Tradiksyon kreyòl ayisyen
Traduzione italiana
Polskie tłumaczenie
Перевод на русский язык
Traducción al español
پیلے رنگ سے نمایاں کردہ ٹیکسٹ
אידישע איבערטייטשונג