Local professionals in the Valley who support more community-based programs for the mentally disabled got a welcoming surprise Wednesday.
The state House of Delegates voted to passed a bill to set up a $30 million trust fund for mental health care.
The Harrisonburg-Rockingham Community Services Board serves hundreds of mentally disabled people, but 66 of them are on a waiting list.
The board doesn't have the resources right now to treat them.
"It's just the case that there are not enough services to go around, so we do the best we can with stretching those services, trying to help as many people as we can," says David Shue, Director of Community Support Services with the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Community Services Board.
He says stretching services takes money and that's something many agencies don't have.
Shue says that could change, since to the House of Delegates unanimously passed Wednesday's bill.
"I think the House vote is a strong signal that there is widespread support to do what has to be done to provide the funds for those services," said Shue.
The measure now goes to the Senate.
Sen. Emmett Hanger from Mount Solon says it's still unclear from where this funding would come.
"We're heavily involved right at this moment in a discussion between the House and the Senate over the differing versions of the budget," says Hanger.
He says the biggest area of disagreement is over support for health and human services agencies.
"You can't just say we're going to pull $30 million out of the air, and we're going to remove 600 people from the training centers and put them in community-based services. It takes a whole lot more to do that," adds Hanger.
Shue says there is a large consensus about what needs to happen.
"We need to move the system to a community-based system of care," explains Shue.
Hanger says the Senate and House are bridging their differences and working things out.
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