Children’s Mental Health Crisis Services Task Force Makes Recommendations to Improve Services in Travis County


Austin and Travis County stakeholders have a long history of working together to improve children’s mental health services in our community. In October 2017, the Children’s Mental Health Crisis Services Task Force was established to support the health and well-being of the youngest members of Travis County so they can reach their full potential. Members represent health care, education, law enforcement, non-profits and local government. Their vision: create a system of care that empowers children and families experiencing a mental health crisis to live safe and healthy lives by offering the least restrictive, appropriate level of care though a seamless, comprehensive and integrated continuum.


Over the last year, the Task Force has worked tirelessly to analyze our current systems and identify opportunities for improvement. They created a report that identifies steps our community must take to create a more responsive and effective system that improves the lives of the children and youth in our community. These steps and recommendations will be discussed at the third Children’s Mental Health Leadership Summit, in Austin this Wednesday, November 28, 2018. Task Force recommendations include systemic improvements to help families, providers and agencies work together more effectively as well as new and expanded mental health crisis services.



Wednesday, November 28th, 10am to 12pm



University Presbyterian Church, 2203 San Antonio Street (Parking across street in University Co-Op Parking Garage)



As Austin Travis County grows at a record pace, so does the number of children who need mental health care. Our community has the opportunity to ensure children and families have access to experts and the tools they need to prevent a mental health crisis and build healthy, resilient families. The right care at the right time can literally mean the difference between life and death as well as minimize years of struggling with undiagnosed mental health issues. Recovery is possible and the earlier a child has access to the right help, the better their chance for long-term recovery. Improving and expanding access to mental health care not only improves the health and well-being of our children and families but also saves our community money spent on overuse of the most expensive resources.


The Need & Impact

  • 1 in 5 children experiences a mental health issue in a given year.
  • Half of all mental illness is evident by the age of 14.
  • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among adolescents ages 12 to 17.
  • There was a 31% increase in psychiatric hospitalizations of children from 2015-2016.
  • Total financial cost for hospital level care, including emergency departments, for Travis County children was over $7 million in 2016.

Media Opportunities

Interviews (Available before and after Children’s Mental Health Summit)

  • Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez, Children’s Mental Health Task Force Co-Chair
  • Emmitt Hayes, Children’s Mental Health Task Force Co-Chair and Integral Care Board of Trustee
  • Ellen Richards, Integral Care Chief Strategy Officer
  • Karen Ranus, NAMIAustin Executive Director
  • Laura Peveto, Travis County Office of Children’s Services Director
  • Kate Volti, Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute Director of Program Innovation for Children and Youth

B-Roll (10am-12pm)

  • Children’s Mental Health Summit


Media Contact

Anne Nagelkirk, Director of Communications, Integral Care,, 512-468-3803


Questions about the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute Financial Analysis? Contact


About Integral Care

Integral Care supports adults and children living with mental illness, substance use disorder and intellectual and developmental disabilities in Travis County. Integral Care’s services include a 24-hour helpline for anyone who needs immediate support, ongoing counseling to improve mental health, drug and alcohol treatment to help with recovery, and housing to regain health and independence. Integral Care helps provide a strong foundation for well-being. Founded in 1967, Integral Care is the Local Mental Health Authority for Travis County.


About the Children’s Mental Health Crisis Services Task Force

The Task Force includes representatives from Any Baby Can, Ascension (Seton), Austin Child Guidance Center, Austin ISD, Austin Police Department, Austin Public Health, Casey Family Programs, Central Health, Communities in Schools, Community Advancement Network, Eanes ISD, Integral Care, NAMI Austin, LifeWorks, Manor ISD, Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, Pflugerville ISD, SAFE Alliance, Texas Dept. of Family Protective Services, Texas Department of Health and Human Services, Travis County Health and Human Services, Travis County Sheriff’s Office, and United Way for Greater Austin.