An Estimated 23,000 California Youth Are Newly Eligible for Critical Mental Health Care

In February, in response to advocacy by Young Minds, the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) announced a landmark policy shift that made thousands of young people with mental health needs in California newly eligible for community-based mental health care. Young Minds Advocacy has analyzed the shift, and estimates that more than 23,000 youth with serious mental health needs in California are newly eligible to receive life changing care, also known as “Katie A. services.”

As highlighted in our most recent fact sheet, “Katie A. services”–named for the federal lawsuit that made them available–include an array of intensive home- and community-based mental health services including Intensive Care Coordination (ICC), Intensive Home Based Services (IHBS) and Therapeutic Foster Care (TFC). These services are provided in a young person’s home, school, recreation center or other community venue so that they don’t have to grow up in isolated, far away facilities.

Serving youth with intensive needs in this way means better life outcomes: better school performance, less involvement with police and the courts, and less disruption.

These services are not only better for youth and families, they’re also mandated by law. Under federal law, states must provide children and youth a broad array of mental health services and supports, including treatments based in a child’s home and community, not only in a facility or group home.

In order to meet the additional need, which we estimate to be 23,353 youth, county mental health agencies must take quick action to increase their capacity to serve these youth. They can do this right now by increasing funding for Katie A. services in their budgets for the upcoming budget year that begins July 1.

Over the past month, Young Minds Advocacy has reached out to every county in California, urging them to increase funding for these critical services. To support this effort, Young Minds has compiled a chart estimating the amount of newly eligible youth and how much it will cost to serve them, by county. We hope this information will assist counties in making informed budget decisions that help fulfill Medi-Cal’s promise to youth and families and meet their legal obligations under federal law.

Meeting this need will not require budget sacrifices because any funds spent by the county will be fully reimbursed from state behavioral health growth funding and matching  federal funds.

But counties have to act now. The lives of thousands of young people with serious mental health needs will be affected–for better or worse–by these budgetary decisions.

For more information visit past blogs on this issue and our Fulfilling Medi-Cal’s Promise webpage: www.youngmindsadvocacy.org/fulfilling-medicals-promise.

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About Young Minds Advocacy 20 Articles
Young Minds Advocacy is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California that uses strategic advocacy and communications to help youths and their families to access mental health services and supports, and improve mental health system performance and accountability.