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Summary: SB 421 would give Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) authority over the Texas System of Care Consortium (consortium). The consortium’s goal is to keep emotionally disturbed children in their homes, with their families, and out of more restrictive placements such as hospitalization, foster care, or juvenile justice by developing local mental health systems of care. The Legislative Budget Board does not project any significant fiscal impact due to SB 421’s provisions because it is assumed the consortium can be implemented by HHSC and the Department of State Health Services within existing resources.
Analysis: On one hand, SB 421 does expand the consortium to create local mental health systems of care, which is an expansion of government. SB 421, however, does this with little cost to Texas taxpayers. Moreover, the bill could promote the individual liberty of emotionally disturbed children by providing them the option receive care in less restrictive settings. This will help children to stay at home with their parents rather than being institutionalized. This would be an inexpensive way to expand mental health services for Texas children and keep these children from being hospitalized, put into foster care, or into the justice system. We are neutral on this legislation.