2019 NACBH Public Policy Conference

Molly Marsh, Association Director

“Wow.” That is all I can say after having experienced my first NACBH Public Policy Conference. I am completely overwhelmed -- in the best way possible! It was an incredibly powerful few days we experienced together in Washington, DC and no doubt you’ll hear much more about the amazing conversations held and public policy insights gleaned. But here’s a peek of my key takeaways and what – I expect – will be driving a lot of the organization’s work in the coming months!

  • More is currently unknown about the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) implementation than is known. Probably not surprising to anyone, but with the initial implementation deadline of October 1 right around the corner, it is absolutely at the top of mind for NACBH members, stakeholders, and many in the children’s behavioral health community. Public Policy Conference presentations and discussions addressed the FFPSA from different perspectives and angles, which highlighted the challenge of different components being “owned” by different levels all the way from the federal Children’s Bureau to individual providers. With no central authority to be able to address outstanding questions, a key opportunity emerges. NACBH and our members are uniquely situated join the conversation and contribute to practical solutions for the anticipated challenges. State and Federal officials are looking for positive, proactive solutions, so be looking for invitations to contribute to NACBH’s voice at the state and federal level. (And mark your calendars for the 2019 Emerging Best Practices Conference, December 5-6 in St. Pete Beach, FL where FFPSA will take center stage!)
  • Politics aren’t always what they seem. I have to admit, I didn’t have high hopes for “meaty” updates from federal agencies or congressional staff members when they came to speak. I was prepared for canned responses from political leadership, similar to what we see in televised press conferences and prepared statements on the evening news. Boy was I surprised! Not only were our speakers and content leaders very engaging and passionate about the public service impact of what they do, they were refreshingly candid about what they know, understand, and where they see things going in the current political climate. Whether it was the forecast for new mental and behavioral health parity legislation, a willingness to take NACBH suggestions back to federal agency leadership, or the honesty about how to make state leaders really sit up and pay attention to the issues of most importance to behavioral health providers, the speakers equipped conference participants with some incredibly practical next steps to advocate for NACBH priorities. This is – no doubt – due to the amazing work of NACBH Director of Public Policy, Pat Johnston who will have LOTS of create policy updates to share with you!
  • NACBH members are a force for good. Rarely can I say that I have been in a room with such a concentrated group of dedicated, future-focused, and mission-driven leaders. The amount of passion for the improvement of our communities through effective and responsible children’s behavioral health services was palpable at all turns. Not only are NACBH member organizations doing amazing things for families in your communities every day, you bring that passion, that voice, and that advocacy to the attention of public policy decision-makers on a national scale. I had heard a lot about the power and strength of NACBH’s voice in the national conversation and I saw it first-hand last week.

Thank you for allowing me to be a part of leading this truly remarkable organization. I cannot wait to see what we can accomplish together as we proceed in the new strategic direction for NACBH!