Illinois partners with Google for AI-driven child behavioral health portal

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(The Center Square) – Illinois seeks to better provide parents and children more access to behavioral health services through a new partnership program with Google.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker was at Google Chicago Monday to announce the creation of BEACON, or the Behavioral Health Care and Ongoing Navigation, a service access portal for Illinois families to access behavioral and mental health resources for children. The plan will incorporate artificial intelligence and create an online portal that provides families with access to behavioral and mental health resources.

“We are doing away with decentralized, difficult-to-navigate behavioral health resources scattered across different agencies, providers and websites,” said Pritzker. “Instead, families will have a modern, easy-to-use online system to guide them through the behavioral health universe.”

A state news release didn’t disclose the taxpayer cost of the partnership between the Illinois Department of Human Services and Google Public Sector.

“Google Public Sector is proud to collaborate with the state of Illinois to launch BEACON, a centralized resource hub powered by human-centered AI,” said Chris Hein, director of Customer Engineering for Google. “Our team designed this system by working backward from the needs of families to create a seamless experience that will help reduce barriers to care.”

State Sen. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago, said legislators have responded well to the new portal.

“After our meetings and hearing how legislators feel about the work that is being done, wow, wow, wow, is what I got last week from three or four legislators,” Feigenholtz said. “We are really excited about this partnership.”

According to the state, the portal will look to achieve five different goals by making it easier for youth and families to access services, adjusting capacity to ensure the right resources are available, intervening earlier to prevent crises from developing, increasing accountability to ensure the state has a transparent system, and developing agility so that the system can adjust to meet the evolving needs of youth.

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