CHICAGO (Nov 18, 2019)– The Chicago Progressive Caucus at Monday’s budget hearing called for the Lightfoot administration to amend the Chicago Department of Public Health investments. Last week, Mayor Lightfoot received a letter signed by 39 alderman calling the administration to allocate more funds towards the public mental health clinics and staff.
“Voters were clear in the last election; we must dramatically increase access to mental health services in our city and seriously look into opening new clinics in underserved communities,” said Maria Hadden (49), “This is something everyone one of us ran on — and is a critical first step in reducing the harm caused 7 years ago when clinics across the city were shuttered and Chicagoans were left out in the cold.”
The CPRC specifically called for additional funds to be allocated to increase staff for extended evening and weekend hours; field-based therapists positions in City-owned, community spaces; and funding a feasibility study to explore the options for opening new CDPH clinics, including better data tracking.
“We commend the administration for making a $9.3 million investment in mental health services. However, we wholeheartedly believe these funds best serve all Chicagoans by going to the City’s public mental health clinics,“ said Ald. Jeanette taylor (20), “Our public clinics are the most accessible spaces our community members can go to receive free services from staff that can provide long-term, trauma informed care.”
The CPRC specifically called for:
- Expanding hours of existing Chicago Department of Public Health clinics to include evening and weekend service and add clinical staff as needed.
- Create Field-Based Therapist positions attached to each existing clinic. Such staff would use existing clinic support services, such as billing and appointment setting, but hold office hours in accessible community settings across the city, such as schools, community centers or public libraries. Field-based CDPH therapists could also run individual and group therapy programs within private FQHC clinics to provide stable, long-term, trauma focused care to supplement the more short-term medically focused treatment that FQHCs provide.
- Fund a feasibility study to calculate the costs of opening new sites in underserved areas for CDPH clinical mental health services. Examine all the options including reestablishing services in the seven shuttered mental health clinics, embedding clinical space within other city facilities and leasing or purchasing new property.
“When those clinics closed, our most vulnerable citizens suffered the most. We have a chance to fix the errors of the past. I urge the Mayor and her administration to make our public clinics a priority,” said Ald. Sophia King (4).
Ten percent of the current CDPH proposal goes to publicly funded city clinics and staff. The proposal by the CPRC calls for 40% of the funds to go to Chicago’s public clinics and staff.
“We know that we cannot separate public safety and mental health,” said Ald Matt Martin (47.) “If we want to address the epidemic of gun violence in Chicago holistically and compassionately, we need to fully invest in our existing public mental health clinics—lives depend on it.”
The Progressive Reform Caucus of the Chicago City Council is dedicated to creating a more just and equal Chicago, combating all forms of discrimination, and advancing public policies that offer genuine opportunity to all Chicagoans, especially those who have been left out of our society’s prosperity.
The Progressive Reform Caucus includes Ald. Daniel LaSpata (1); Ald. Sophia King (4); Ald. Leslie Hairston (5); Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6); Ald. Susan Sadlowski-Garza (10); Ald. Stephanie Coleman (16); Ald. David Moore (17); Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20); Ald. Michael Rodriguez (22); Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25); Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29); Ald. Rossana Rodriguez (33); Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35); Ald. Felix Cardona, Jr. (31); Ald. Scott Waguespack (32); Ald. Andre Vasquez (40); Ald. Matt Martin (47); Ald. Maria Hadden (49).