At We Know Stuff, we don't really talk about politics, but we do talk about the importance of children's mental health. Our children are our future and it is disheartening to see so many children, youth and families suffering, especially on Long Island.
If you read any of the local NY papers (or websites), you'll know that Sagamore Children's in-patient program is closing. Regardless of where one stands on the issue of inpatient versus outpatient treatment, the closing of this hospital will have an impact on Long Island families.
This 57-bed hospital offers services to children and youth, usually 9-17 years of age, and provides them with intensive in-patient care. The benefit of this facility is that it is centrally located right in the middle of Long Island allowing for equal access for both Nassau and Suffolk County families. If you've ever had a family member in need of treatment, you know how scary and difficult the healing process can be - and being able to visit is crucial for both the person in need, and their family.
With the closing of this in-patient program, Long Island families will now need to send their children to facilities in the Queens or the Bronx. Why does this matter? Well, if you live in Eastern Long Island, you're going to have a hard time being able to visit your child, especially if transportation is an issue.
So what will happen to these families now? Well, the Office of Mental Health will be expanding their community services, but no one really knows what these services will be yet. It also remains to be seen if they will be able to supply the increasing demand for assistance on Long Island. There is so much gray area still left to be figured out, but this is where you can help.
The Office of Mental Health's Regional Centers of Excellence are meeting now to determine the best course of action for the future of mental health supports and services on Long Island. If you want to have a Voice in our future, then please visit the local Long Island RCE Team Page and submit your comments here. Unfortunately, the amount of submitted comments thus far have been minimal, but there is a live person checking for comments, so please make your Voice Be Heard. Your comments can be about mental health issues surrounding children and/or adults!
Needless to say, this is why it is critical that Long Island families and Legislators figure out a way to work together on tackling children's (and adults) mental health-related policy issues. If we do not advocate for our children, youth and loved ones, no one else will. A wise person once told me, "No one will ever care about your family like you do. If you don't use your Voice, no one else will."
That's why it's important for We Know Stuff to make you aware of which of your Legislators care about children's mental health concerns on Long Island. The Assemblymen, Senators and Representatives below all recently attended Long Island Families Together's 10th Annual Legislative Breakfast. This annual event is an opportunity for local and state Legislators to meet their constituents and hear their stories about the issues surrounding children's mental health and their access to much-needed services.
Last year, I sat in the audience misty-eyed while I listened to two Fathers and two Youth share their very personal stories about their family's struggles within the system. I was so affected by what I heard that I asked my sister to join me this year. At the Breakfast, she sat in the audience (misty-eyed beside me) as we listened to a Father, a Grandmother, and a Youth share their equally personal stories with us. There is no doubt that this annual event is incredibly moving and I highly encourage you to attend next year if you can.
The Legislators in attendance are also moved by the stories they hear. So much so, that many of them attend year after year. You'd be surprised at how many of them ask to speak at this event so they can share their own personal stories about why they care about children's mental health concerns and the policies that affect our families.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, We Know Stuff is not a political blog by any means. But we do believe in the importance of children's mental health advocacy and using our Voices to help support important issues and policies. It is with this in mind, that we share the list below. They came, they saw, they listened and they learned...and hopefully, they will fight for our children, youth and families too.
Long Island Families Together's 10th Annual Legislative Breakfast
2013 Legislative Attendees
- Phil Boyle, NYS Senator
- Phil Curcio, Legal Analyst, representing Lee Zeldin, NYS Senator
- Matthew Dwyer, Director, Nassau County Office for the Physically Challenged, Representing Edward Mangano, Nassau County Executive
- Paul S. Ehrlich, Chief of Staff, representing Jack M. Martins, NYS Senator
- Fran Evans, Communications Director, Representing Charles Lavine, NYS Assemblyman
- Rene P. Fiechter, Assistant District Attorney, Director, Community Affairs, Nassau County
- DuWayne Gregory, Suffolk County Legislator
- Ryland Gaines, Jr., Legislative Aide, representing Ricardo Montano, Suffolk County Legislator
- Chad Luppinachi, NYS Assemblyman
- Scott Martella, Suffolk County Representative, Office of Regional Affairs, Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
- Donna Nogid, representing David Denenberg, Nassau County Legislator
- Carol Nucci, representing John Flanagan, NYS Senator
- Ed Ra, NYS Assemblyman
- Joseph Saladino, NYS Assemblyman
- Kyle D. Strober, Long Island Regional Director, Office of Charles Schumer, US Senator
- Kathy Visconti, representing Wayne H. Wink, Jr., Nassau County Legislator
Raise your Voice; help advocate for stronger, more beneficial, mental health policies for children, youth, adults, and their families,
Denine & Daniele