March 22, 2022
On March 21, 2022, Debra Wentz, Ph.D., President and CEO of the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies (NJAMHAA), testified before the New Jersey General Assembly Budget Committee. Dr. Wentz's oral testimony focused on the critical status of the workforce, and how shortages are contributing to growing waitlists and reduced capacity for all of New Jersey's diverse communities. The written testimony Dr. Wentz submitted expounds on these issues and includes the full list of NJAMHAA's budget requests. NJAMHAA's Diverse Faces campaign, both the brochure and videos, were sent to all Assembly members at the conclusion of Dr. Wentz's testimony.
Jacques Hryshko, LPC, ACS, CEO of Family Connections and NJAMHAA Board Vice-chair, also testified. He let the Committee know that state contracts, which provide the majority of funding for Family Connections, have not been increased since 2008, despite escalating costs, not the least of which are wages. He added that staff are leaving for higher salaries and better benefits, noting that the "Governor's budget offers a hope that community providers can become sustainable" and that greater investment is needed. His full testimony can be read here.
NJAMHAA encourages all members to lend their voices to our advocacy efforts. You may register for the Assembly and Senate budget hearings here. They are strictly virtual this year. Although the Assembly hearings began today, you can still register for Wednesday, March 23rd. Registration remains open for both Senate hearings, which are scheduled for March 29th and April 21st. Each has morning, early afternoon and afternoon sessions (you will see those options once you click on the registration link). Oral testimony is limited to three minutes - you will be timed. You may also submit written testimony (whether you are testifying orally or not) to ABUBudgetHearings@njleg.org and SBABudgetHearings@njleg.org .
For talking points, please refer to NJAMHAA's one pager Budget Priorities document and, once again, our current campaign piece, Diverse Faces, Many Lives: New Jerseyans Rely on Mental Health and Substance Use Services to Thrive, which provides more information on those priorities.