Forsyth County calls for opt-out on plan to centralize mental health services for children in child welfare system | Local News


Forsyth County is making aggressive efforts to back out of a plan to have a single statewide organization oversee mental health services in the child welfare system.

Just months after the county aligned with Partners Health Management to manage the delivery of these services, the new state plan risks undermining the improvements that county leaders say they have already seen bear fruit, said Forsyth County Deputy Executive Shontell Robinson to Forsyth County Commissioners on Thursday afternoon. .

“We want to continue the positive trajectory we have with Partners,” Robinson said. “We’re making significant progress that we didn’t make with our previous (supplier) Cardinal…(and) I don’t believe it’s in the best interest of our young people that we’re responsible for.”


It was not on the agenda for Thursday’s session of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners, but the council moved quickly to approve sending a letter to the Secretary of State for Health , Kody Kinsley, requesting the opt-out.

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Time is running out, Robinson told the county council, as a joint legislative oversight committee of the NC General Assembly is expected to take up the matter on Tuesday.

Copies of the letter are going to the entire county legislative delegation at NC House and the Senate. County officials hope state lawmakers can help the county stay true to partners in the future.

Rhett Melton, the managing director of Partners, joined Robinson on a conference call during the commissioners’ meeting on Thursday.

“We share this belief that the best care for these children is local,” Melton told the commissioners. “Forsyth is different from Davie, from Gaston, from Iredell, so we believe the solution to these very difficult cases is to continue to build on those successes that we have started at the grassroots level.”

Robinson said examples of improved care under Partners include the development of an adult crisis center, a “one-stop-shop” model for mental health and addictions services, and the opening of a emergency halfway house for youth held by the Department of Social Services.

Robinson said he hasn’t heard of any support for the new plan from Partners’ 14 counties.

Ironically, Robinson acknowledged that the force behind the new plan was likely the widespread realignment of mental health services that counties, including Forsyth, began considering a few years ago due to dissatisfaction with how mental health services were managed.

The list of complaints about the services provided by Cardinal Innovations, the county’s former provider, was long: it included shortcomings and delays in getting help, getting lower than recommended levels of care, the lack of local suppliers and poor planning of hospital emergency discharges. rooms.

“I believe it honestly stems from almost two years ago when all of these counties had their challenges with Cardinal,” Robinson said. “Honestly, if you had asked me two years ago, before we were even considering realignment, I would have said ‘Connect: Everything has to be better than what we have now. “So it’s possible we supported him at the time. But things have changed drastically in two years.”

Forsyth did not complete his move to Partners until November. The plan to change the management system again “would create another change too soon in an already complex system,” the county’s letter said.

County officials remind Kinsley that Dave Richard, the Undersecretary of Health and Human Services, told Robinson verbally and in writing that Forsyth County could opt out of the new state plan. Richard also receives a copy of the letter from the county.

*The Commissioners awarded a contract to Sharpe Brothers for the rehabilitation of the main runway at Smith Reynolds Airport, valued at $6.8 million.

* Commissioners approved the purchase of 20 Ford Interceptor SUVs for the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, at a cost of approximately $696,000.


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