DIX HILLS - As state lawmakers prepare to vote on the budget agreement reached Friday night, a mental health facility on Long Island is breathing a sigh of relief, for now.
The state spending agreement includes enough money to keep the Sagamore Children's Psychiatric Center in Dix Hills open for another year.
Nancy Barry, whose son is a patient at the facility, says it's a "saving grace." She's concerned about what will happen to the facility in the next budget. "It's great for a year, but then after that, what will they do for all these kids?" she wondered.
Last year, the state's Office of Mental Health announced a plan to close the center and instead offer only community day programs for children with mental health issues. The plan prompted outraged parents to protest.
Under the revised plan, state Sen. Phil Boyle says there's enough money to keep Sagamore running for another year, but in three months he says surveys will be performed to see if community day programs are more effective. Depending on the findings, the number of beds at Sagamore could be cut in half in an effort to save money.
"The number of beds may be reduced, but Sagamore is not closing," Boyle says.
Nancy Barry says day programs just don't work for some children. "There's a waiting list to get into Sagamore, so it just proves there's a need," she says.