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Early intervention programs a priority for Governor's Prevention Advisory Council

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The Governor’s Prevention Advisory Council on Drugs and Alcohol wants to see more “early intervention” programs for school age children.

"One of the top concerns we hear at schools is behavioral health," said Pam Sagness, director of behavioral health regulation for the state department of Human Services, and a member of the Council. "So, how can we invest in the early intervention services, so we are building children who are resilient, and can bounce back when difficult things happen?"

The Council met in Bismarck to work on its priorities for the 2019 Legislature.  Sagness said the Council agrees it is important to identify the at-risk children.

"We can wrap services around them, prior to them having a diagnosis, or needing more in-depth services that are much more costly, and less effective," Sagness said.

She says the report from the Human Services Institute, hired to look at behavioral health issues, shows the state needs to, wherever it can, invest in prevention and early intervention efforts – and not just in treatment.

"The majority of our spending goes into those high-level treatment services," Sagness said. "If we could take even a portion of that $19 million going into treatment, and invest even 5 percent of that in some of these early intervention or prevention programs, we could save a lot of money in the future."

Sagness said it could also mean less difficult things for families who have to deal with substance abuse.

"Whenever we invest $1.00 in prevention, we can see $64 in savings and treatment," Sagness said.

Gov. Doug Burgum will release his executive budget next week.

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