The Florida Legislature allocated $800,000 in state funding to Hillsborough County to expand behavioral health treatment.
Florida HD 60 Rep. Jackie Toledo sponsored the House Bill. The appropriation will fund 13 new beds for the county’s Crisis Stabilization Units (CSU). The additions will be used as Baker Act beds and will make up for those previously cut from the state budget in 2017 and 2018.
“Now, more than ever, it is important that our community partners come together to exchange ideas and ensure efficiency,” Toledo said in a news release. “Our strained state budget and need for behavioral services increases the importance of collaboration and innovation.”
Funding will be split between Northside Behavioral Health Center and Gracepoint Wellness, the only two providers in Hillsborough County that offer CSU services.
“CSU services literally save lives,” BayCare Behavioral Health Vice President Gail Ryder said in a news release. “These beds allow us to respond to people in immediate danger of suicide so we can prevent tragedy and help them move towards stability and the longer-term services they need.”
The coronavirus pandemic affected the state’s budget, leading Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to issue more than $1 billion in vetoes. However, Hillsborough County’s CSU allocation was unaffected.
“I am thankful the Governor sees the importance in these critical services for Hillsborough County residents,” Toledo said. “The First Lady has also been a champion for children and families, and I know this funding will help ensure safety and health within the home.”
The Florida Department of Children and Families recommends having at least one CSU bed per 10,000 residents. Hillsborough County is currently operating with less than half that as a result of funding cuts in the last few years.
“Throughout the pandemic the need for crisis stabilization has remained high, and as the isolation and economic stress associated with COVID-19 continue, more people will face behavioral health challenges,” Ryder said.