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Columbia Missourian

VOTERS GUIDE 2012: Proposition 1 would finance child mental health services

By Grace Lyden
October 1, 2012 | 3:46 p.m. CDT

PROPOSITION 1: Voters across Boone County will see the proposed quarter-cent sales tax for children’s mental health services on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Ballot language: Shall Boone County, solely for the purpose of establishing a Community Children’s Services Fund (authorized under RSMO 67.1775) for the purpose of providing services to protect the well-being and safety of children and youth nineteen years of age or less and to strengthen families, be authorized to levy a sales tax of one-quarter of a cent in the County of Boone?

What's the money for?

Mental health services for people age 19 and younger, including temporary housing, outpatient treatment for substance abuse, school-based prevention programs and counseling and psychiatric services.

How much money would the tax raise?

The tax would generate an estimated $5.4 million annually. According to Christine Corcoran of Putting Kids First, this estimate is based on sales tax collections in 2009.

It would take about $3.94 million per year to fill the gaps in mental health services, according to an assessment commissioned by Putting Kids First in August 2011.

Why should I care?

The assessment identified 934 teens and children who went without mental health services in 2010, including 357 who didn’t receive counseling when requested. The survey also identified 64 teens and children who were turned away from temporary shelter and 65 who were turned away from transitional living because the programs were full or lacked employees licensed to work with people with mental illnesses.

The Putting Kids First campaign was founded to support children's mental health. Proponents of the campaign are concerned that services and prevention programs have been cut while the population of Boone County has expanded.

How would the money be spent?

Elected officials would appoint a nonpartisan board of county residents to make spending decisions. A state statute dictates the board makeup and categories for potential spending:

  1. Up to 30 days of temporary shelter for abused, neglected, runaway, homeless or emotionally disturbed youth, respite care services and services to unwed mothers.
  2. Outpatient chemical dependency and psychiatric treatment programs, counseling and related services as a part of transitional living programs, home-based and community-based family intervention programs, unmarried parent services, crisis intervention services, inclusive of telephone hotlines and prevention programs which promote healthy lifestyles among children and youth and strengthen families.
  3. Individual, group or family professional counseling and therapy services, psychological evaluations and mental health screenings.