Viewpoint: January 15, 2013

At a time when tragic events like Sandy Hook Elementary and Aurora, CO have put a spotlight on the need for greater mental health services, Louisiana is cutting a program that parents say has been successful.

Louisiana's Early Childhood Support and Services helps children aged six and younger with behavioral health problems. Many of these children have been exposed to violence in their homes or neighborhoods.

The program ends this month, saving the state about $135,000 in the second half of the fiscal year. However, parents whose children have been through the program and experienced significant progress say the long term costs could be far greater if these children don't get proper help in their formative years.

We agree. The Jindal administration says the children in this program can get help elsewhere. We urge state health officials to work with parents to ensure that happens. We know budgets are tight, but cutting an important program with a proven track record may end up being very costly for hundreds of Louisiana families who truly need it.