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Cuts to mental health services shake up locals

Proposition 1E would shift public funding to children's care

Posted: March 2, 2009 11:29 p.m.
Updated: March 3, 2009 7:55 a.m.
 

Some local residents are frustrated that voters will be asked to shift money from public mental health services to use for poor childrens' health care.

"How can we possibly choose between the health care of children and that of the mentally ill? The care of both is essential to the community," said Linda Paine, a member of the National Alliance for Mental Illness and mother of two children suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

"We are a hard-working family, but are struggling," Paine said.

In the state's May 19 special election, Proposition 1E asks voters to shift $227 million in voter-approved funding from Proposition 63, the state mental health fund, for two years to pay for a low-income child development program known as the Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment Program, the Associated Press reported.

"It's disgraceful," said Sandra Munson, a client and beneficiary of the Department of Mental Health Services for the past 13 years.

"If it wasn't for these services, I would be dead right now."

Some say the proposition is a "manipulative and cruel" pulling at the heartstrings of Santa Clarita Valley residents and pitting the mentally ill against the needs of children.

"The well-being and welfare of each person in society should always be most important and can't be put in jeopardy," Munson said. "Caring for those in need should never even be in question."

Should the proposed budget plan pass through legislature, severe cuts will be made to the Department of Mental Health Services in the Santa Clarita Valley, thus effecting a wide range of community members and produce possible issues to public safety.

"It is $50,000 a year to house someone in a jail versus $16,000 a year to provide full mental health services to individuals in the community," Wilson said. "And treating those in need will benefit the whole society."

Reach the writer at vlovato@the-signal.com.

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