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TSET Board to Consider Funding for Senior Nutrition Program, Mental Health Services for Children

Oklahoma City (Nov. 1, 2017) – The TSET Board of Directors will consider a proposal to increase funding to health and human services agencies facing deep cuts in an effort to offset reductions that would impact vulnerable senior citizens and children in need of mental health services.

TSET Board of Directors Chair Don Millican said Wednesday he will ask board members to vote on a proposal to utilize $3.08 million in endowment earnings to provide one-time funding for senior meals statewide and mental health crisis teams for children.

The proposal to enter into interagency agreements with the Department of Human Services and the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services will be considered at the TSET Board of Directors Nov. 14 meeting.

“As our Legislature struggles to fund essential core services during special session, I believe our board should consider additional partnerships with health-related state agencies. This proposal can play a part in reducing catastrophic cuts to vital services and avoiding more costly interventions down the road,” said Millican. “These one-time infusions fit within TSET’s mission and constitutional framework.”

The proposal before the TSET Board of Directors calls for one-time funding of senior nutrition programs administered by the Department of Human Services and funding to the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to continue to fund mobile crisis response units that provide assistance to children and youth experiencing a mental health and substance abuse crises.

The senior nutrition program has been on a list of programs that would be reduced as DHS absorbs a $69 million decrease in funding. The TSET Board of Directors is expected to vote on a proposal to provide $1.81 million to be used to maintain state-funded services to senior nutrition centers statewide. Senior nutrition centers provided 1,356,000 meals at centers and delivered 1,315,000 meals to Oklahomans over the age of 60 in state fiscal year 2017.

The TSET Board of Directors will also consider a proposal to provide $1.27 million to support mobile crisis response teams that provide behavioral health services to children in crisis across the state. The program served 2,711 children and youth from July 1, 2016 to June 30, responding to calls related to mental health crisis, substance abuse crisis, family crisis and foster care stabilization. This program works to provide services to children and youth in an effort to avoid in-patient hospitalizations, disrupting foster care placements or additional traumas that could impact a child and cause further mental health, social and emotional issues.

“It is my hope that our Legislature will continue to work on a more permanent solution to fund these programs with reoccurring revenues in future budget years,” Millican said.

Members of the TSET Board of Directors are appointed to represent the state’s congressional districts and are appointed by the Governor, State Treasurer, Attorney General, State Auditor and Inspector, Superintendent of Education, Senate President Pro Tempore and the Speaker of the House.

TSET was created by a constitutional amendment in 2000 to improve the health of Oklahomans by preventing and reducing tobacco use, cancer and other tobacco-related diseases. The constitutional language also prioritizes programs that enhance the health and well-being of senior adults and improve the quality of life for children.

TSET receives a portion of the state’s annual payment from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with the tobacco industry. TSET’s portion of the payment is invested in an endowment and only the earnings are used to fund grants and programs to improve health.

Earnings from the TSET endowment also provide the state share for programs that recruit, train and retain doctors in rural and underserved areas, support cancer research for adults and children at the Stephenson Cancer Center, fund the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline (1-800-QUIT-NOW) that provides tools and support needed to quit tobacco and fund community-based grants across the state.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                
Julie Bisbee, julieb@tset.ok.gov
Direct: 405-521-4992
Cell: 405-301-3693

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The Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) serves as a partner and bridge builder for organizations working towards shaping a healthier future for all Oklahomans. TSET provides leadership at the intersections of health by working across the state, by cultivating innovative and life-changing research, and by working across public and private sectors to develop, support, implement and evaluate creative strategies to take advantage of emerging opportunities to improve the public's health. TSET. Better Lives Through Better Health.