BOSTON – Senator Brian A. Joyce voted with his colleagues in the Massachusetts Senate to pass a supplemental budget that will provide resources to address a recent rise in homelessness and also allow the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to hire additional caseworkers to ease caseloads following several cases of severe and unacceptable mismanagement within the department.
“I’m pleased to see the state addressing the rise in homeless families living in hotels and motels which is harmful to the families and inefficient for taxpayers. However the inadequate amount of mental health resources has to be addressed as a contributing factor to the state’s rise in homelessness,” said Joyce. “At the same time, DCF’s problems must be immediately addressed to ensure not one single child under the agency’s charge will be lost in the system.”
Joyce cosponsored several amendments to assist homeless families by increasing the amount of rental vouchers available and supporting the Rental Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program which helps families on the verge of homelessness stabilize their housing situation. He also cosponsored a successful amendment that decreases the amount of time insurance companies have to make their utilization and medical necessity criteria for mental health and substance abuse treatment publically available.
Additionally, Joyce offered an amendment to the bill that would allow consumers to bring a lawsuit against an insurance company if they were being denied their mental health parity rights as provided by law. Though the amendment was not adopted, the language is also contained in S. 1927 which recently had a hearing before the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse.