Delaware Children’s Dept. addresses teen suicides in budget proposal

The Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families today outlined its fiscal year 2014 budget requests.

Cabinet Secretary Vivian Rapposelli detailed a proposal for approximately $3.4 million in services and $5.4 million for the capital budget.  One major concern addressed during the hearing was the alarming rate of teen suicide that the state has faced in the past year.

Earlier this year, a report from the CDC revealed that between January 1 and May 4, there were 11 suicide deaths in Kent and Sussex Counties, and 116 suicide attempts from students between the ages of 13 and 21. Four students were from Polytech High School in Woodside.

To help combat the issue, the department is requesting $225,000 to provide after school and summer services for youth in Kent and Sussex Counties.

“This initiative is an act of initial findings of an investigation conducted by the Centers for Disease Control of teen suicide in Kent and Sussex Counties,” said Rapposelli. “The CDC indicated that there’s a great need for after school activities for youth in Kent and Sussex counties and that the lack of such activities may be a significant contributor to teen suicide in these areas of the state. The CDC also recommended training for adults who serve youth in recognition of and appropriate response to youth mental health challenges. We will also use part of this funding for program evaluation services.”

The department also requested $397,000 to strengthen their behavioral health consulting program which provides suicide risk assessment, trauma and substance abuse training, individual and family counseling and behavioral health consultation for school staff.

For children transitioning out of foster care, the department requested $515,000 to establish stipends for young adults.

According to Rapposelli, while the children have access to affordable housing such as Section 8 and the Life Housing Program, they don’t have much, if any, money left over for education, transportation or other resources.

Rapposelli added that struggling children transitioning out of the system often face homelessness, unemployment and crime.

Additionally, the department requested $158,000 to update technology.

For the capital budget request, DSCYF requested a total of $5.4 million for roofing repairs, electric and gas meters and other building maintenance.

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