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Arkansas mental health provider announces layoffs

January 24, 2019

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A nonprofit mental health provider in Arkansas has announced plans to lay off more than 10 percent of its staff because of financial losses, which mental health advocates fear will limit access to important resources.

Youth Home Inc. CEO David Napier said Wednesday that 31 of 227 employees will be laid off by March 1, The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. Youth Home provides a variety of services, including residential and outpatient treatment.

A rate freeze on some Medicaid reimbursements has made the organization’s financial situation difficult, Napier said.

“We had just finally reached the tipping point,” he said. “We needed to stop the financial losses so we can have resources to move in a different direction if we need to.”

The layoffs will affect employees in administrative and direct care roles. The provider will also close a residential cottage and eliminate 12 of the facility’s 60 beds.

The cuts likely won’t affect current patients, but the organization will have less capacity for residential mental health care, Napier said.

Mental health advocates fear that Youth Home’s layoffs could be a sign of larger issues the state’s mental health care system is facing.

“It worries me that Youth Home is in the position they are, because they’re so well-respected, and people support what they do wholeheartedly,” said Luke Kramer, executive director of mental health advocacy group The STARR Coalition.

The layoffs could mean that people needing services will have a difficult time finding help, he said.

“Honestly, a lot of other providers are just not taking new clients in, because they can’t. They can’t afford to take new people,” Kramer said.

The difficult fiscal environment also means that mental health professionals who are laid off may have problems finding employment because many providers aren’t hiring, he said.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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