Trust funds se­nior and men­tal health pro­grams

The Oklahoman - - FRONT PAGE - BY BRI­ANNA BAI­LEY Staff Writer bbai­ley@ok­la­homan.com

The Ok­la­homa To­bacco Set­tle­ment En­dow­ment Trust is giv­ing more than $3 mil­lion to help keep state men­tal health and se­nior nu­tri­tion pro­grams op­er­at­ing in the face of steep bud­get cuts.

The TSET board of di­rec­tors voted Tues­day to pro­vide funds through the end of the fis­cal year for se­nior nu­tri­tion ser­vices at the state De­part­ment of Hu­man Ser­vices and a mo­bile men­tal health cri­sis pro­gram for chil­dren through the Ok­la­homa De­part­ment of Men­tal Health and Sub­stance Abuse Ser­vices.

TSET isa state grant mak­ing trust that pri­mar­ily de votes fund­ing to pre­vent­ing can­cer and car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, but can also choose to fund pro­grams that help chil­dren and se­niors.

The board ap­proved $3.08 mil­lion in one-time fund­ing for the pro­grams, in­clud­ing:

• $1.81 mil­lion grant to help DHS main­tain ser­vices to 189 se­nior nu­tri­tion meal sites in 77 counties.

• $1.27 mil­lion to the men­tal health de­part­ment to sup­port mo­bile cri­sis re­sponse teams that pro­vide be­hav­ioral health ser­vices to chil­dren in cri­sis across the state.

“For both agen­cies, this fund­ing will be sig­nif­i­cant for them to main­tain ser­vices through the end of the fis­cal year,” John Woods, TSET ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, said at the board meet­ing.

State match­ing funds to pro­vide se­nior meal pro­grams were on the chop­ping block as DHS faces midyear bud­get re­duc­tions.

As part of its ini­tial es­ti­mates, DHS said ear­lier that it would have to cut as many as 30 se­nior meal sites across the state.

Ad­di­tional fund­ing from TSET will help many se­nior food pro­grams in ru­ral parts of the state con­tinue op­er­at­ing, said DHS spokes­woman Sheree Pow­ell.

“Many of the ru­ral sites would be fac­ing clo­sure if they lost state money,” she said.

Dur­ing the past fis­cal year, se­nior nu­tri­tion pro­grams served more than 1.3 mil­lion meals at se­nior cen­ters and an ad­di­tional 1.3 mil­lion home-de­liv­ered meals to Ok­la­homans.

The men­tal health ser­vices pro­gram served 2,711 chil­dren last fis­cal year re­spond­ing to calls re­lated to men­tal health cri­sis, sub­stance abuse cri­sis, fam­ily cri­sis and fos­ter care stabilization.

The men­tal health agency’s pro­gram helps keep fos­ter chil­dren ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a men­tal health cri­sis out of in­pa­tient psy­chi­atric care and also helps keep them in sta­ble home place­ments, said Car­rie Slat­ton-Hodges, deputy com­mis­sioner for re­cov­ery and treat­ment.

The agency would have been forced to cut back its mo­bile cri­sis pro­gram this year with­out the money from TSET, Slat­ton Hodges said. “This is just such a life­saver,” she told the TSET board.

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