Forsyth County would be a participant in a two-year foster care pilot program addressing child welfare and behavioral health issues once the 2019-20 state budget is signed into law.

The budget appropriates undisclosed funding to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services for the pilot program.

The N.C. Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services would oversee the program.

The goal is determining whether the program would provide “easier access to comprehensive health services for children in foster care.”

The program would offer options for better continuity of care, provide an alternative to therapeutic foster care and maintain uninterrupted care and services when a child needs services to treat a traumatic physical or behavioral health concern.

Davie, Rockingham and Stokes would join Forsyth in the pilot, representing the four counties in the former CenterPoint Human Services behavioral health managed care organization (MCO).

Also participating in the program would be the county Department of Social Services.

The program would evaluate how the MCOs and DSS operations collaborate when addressing physical, safety and behavioral health concerns of children in foster care.

It also would explore alternative funding mechanisms.

An initial progress report on the pilot would be due to the joint legislative oversight committee on health and human services by April 1. A final report would be due by Oct. 1, 2021.

The pilot program, like all items in the state budget compromise, is being delayed by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the budget bill, primarily over his insistence of a form of Medicaid expansion being included in the bill, as well as higher teacher salary raises.

If Cooper’s veto is sustained by enough Democratic legislators, it could take weeks, if not months, for Cooper to reach a compromise with GOP legislative leaders, particularly Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, who are intensely opposed to any form of Medicaid expansion. 336-727-7376 @rcraverWSJ

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