The stigma surrounding human service, mental health and addiction assistance isn’t what it once was when it comes to people seeking assistance and treatment.

While the polarization and discrimination are decreasing, the need for help has increased. This need is going unmet due to the lack of qualified mental health and addiction care professionals and lower funding for nonprofit organizations that provide human service.

In short, barriers remain for many who need help — and the human services providers who want to assist them. These realities have created a crisis.

Existing state law provides for an annual increase for nonprofit providers. Unfortunately, for the last decade, the funding increases for these service providers were not included in the state budget.

This has resulted in a loss of $1 billion in promised financial support.

Not surprisingly, this has severely compromised nonprofit operations:

The number and quality of services is declining; many agencies have had to institute waiting lists for care; facilities are deteriorating; and agencies are unable to offer competitive, living wages to attract and retain the skilled staff necessary to deliver quality care and support.

These fiscal realities are contributing to increased homelessness, increased hospitalizations and ultimately greater cost to taxpayers.

The importance of these agencies cannot be overstated. Individuals rely on them to fulfill their dreams of independence and families rely on them to provide their loved ones with the quality care they need to keep them safe and thriving.

Human services providers working with the state and are asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo to boost their funding by 3 percent each year for the next five years.

This investment is a cost-effective win-win for all New Yorkers.

William Gettman

Albany

The writer is chief executive officer of Northern Rivers Family of Services.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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