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State to work with Google to improve access to children’s behavioral healthcare resources

State officials announced on Monday, Jan. 29, a new initiative, Behavioral Health Care and Ongoing Navigation: A Service Access Portal for Illinois Youth (BEACON), that will be powered by Google Cloud’s secure, scalable and advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing technology.

The centralized point of access is intended to improve the experience of families engaged with the Department of Human Services (DHS), the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS), the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), the Department of Public Health (DPH), and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). 

The new support service will attempt to eliminate frustration for parents and caretakers who are already challenged by their child’s distress.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker joined DHS and Google Public Sector officials on Monday to unveil the new state-of-the-art online portal that will provide a user-friendly experience for Illinois families to access behavioral and mental health resources for children. The DHS Division of Mental Health (DMH) is collaborating with Google Public Sector to the project.

The development of the BEACON portal moves the State closer to accomplishing the five goals recommended by the Children’s Behavioral Health Transformation Initiative that was unveiled in February 2023.

  1. Streamlining processes to make it easier for youth and families to access services,
  2. Adjusting capacity to ensure the right resources are available to youth in need,
  3. Intervening earlier to prevent crises from developing,
  4. Increasing accountability to ensure the State has a transparent system, and
  5. Developing agility so that the system can adjust to meet the evolving needs of youth.

“We are doing away with decentralized, difficult-to-navigate behavioral health resources scattered across different agencies, providers, and websites,” Pritzker said. “Instead, families will have a modern, easy to use online system to guide them through the behavioral health universe. This is another example of Illinois is leading the way — to mobilize public-private partnerships and couple ingenuity with empathy.”

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