Children's Colorado pleads with lawmakers for pediatric mental health funding

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Children's Hospital Colorado is asking state lawmakers to fund residential mental healthcare as it experiences a state of emergency in pediatric mental health, according to CBS 4.

Jena Hausmann, CEO of Children's Hospital Colorado, declared a state of emergency in pediatric mental health May 25, a first for the Aurora-based hospital. Ms. Hausmann said pediatric emergency departments and inpatient units are being "overrun with kids attempting suicide and suffering from other forms of major mental health illness."

In the last two years, Children's Colorado has seen a 90 percent increase in demand for behavioral health treatment, according to a hospital news release. Statewide, 10 of Colorado's largest residential treatment facilities are turning away 240 pediatric patients on a given day on average, according to CBS 4.

Zach Zanslow, senior director of government affairs at Children's Hospital Colorado, told the news station that Colorado has lost 1,000 residential treatment beds for pediatric patients requiring mental health services in the past decade. Staffing shortages and higher demand for services have forced children to seek treatment out of state.

Mr. Zanslow is urging lawmakers to allocate funding to residential child care facilities. A bill in Colorado aims to immediately provide $100 million for mental health services in jails, community mental health centers and schools, but doesn't include residential child care facilities, Mr. Zanslow told the news station.

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