Public officials, union leadership call on state to keep Rockland Children’s Psychiatric open

Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther opposes the closing.

ORANGEBURG – Rockland County’s representatives in both the state and county governments gathered with union workers outside Rockland Children’s Psychiatric Center to once again condemn a budget proposal that could shutter the facility.

Anthony Adamo, regional president of the CSEA, lamented about the proposed closure.

“Here we go again,” he said.

Adamo, who spoke for the union which represents psych center workers, did not mince words when criticizing the governor’s latest proposal to cut funding to the center and relocate patients and staff to a facility in the Bronx.

“We have an obligation to care for those who can’t care for themselves and that’s what this facility has done. We’ve always seen them balance the budget on the backs of workers; now were seeing them balance the budget on the backs of our children that need help.”

Closing the center “would be a terrible decision that would cost jobs and harm some of our most vulnerable children and families,” echoed Senator Elijah Reichlin-Melnick (D- Orangetown). 

“The Covid-19 pandemic has caused incredible stress for New York’s children by disrupting their education, and their social and family lives. The state should be investing more into the mental health system, and especially for children – not proposing shutdowns that would force families to send their children to faraway facilities,” he said.

Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther (D – Forestburgh), chairwoman of the Assembly Mental Health Committee, was equally frustrated.

“It seems like we have the same darn discussion ever year,” said Gunther, who accused the governor of habitually pushing for cuts to New York’s mental health facilities. “We cannot continue to slash funding from this system; the administration has already cut hundreds of beds from state psychiatric centers.”

Rockland isn’t the only county facing cuts. A cash strapped state government has considered rolling back mental health services statewide as it faces record budget shortfalls. Senator Skoufis, recently spoke at Goshen Secure Center, calling on his constituents to block efforts to de-fund that facility, lamented that “at a time when mental wellness is at an all-time low here we are advancing a budget that lays of more our neighbors and puts children last.”

The assembled representatives vowed to reject the governor’s proposal in the coming weeks.