Improving Access to Community-Based Services Throughout California
Traditionally, treatment options for youth with mental health needs were limited to low-intensity services, such as medication management and psychotherapy, or institutionalization in group homes or psychiatric facilities. This limited approach is frequently ineffective, often very expensive, and, at times, results in damaged lives, broken families, and extinguished hopes.
Mental health stakeholders are seeking to fix this broken system by developing intensive home and community-based mental health services to improve the effectiveness of treatment, lower costs, and achieve better outcomes for families and children. To do this, advocates have used lawsuits to enforce the rights of Medicaid-eligible young people to more appropriate care. Katie A v. Bonta, filed in federal court in Los Angeles, is one such case.
Settled in 2011, the Katie A. case secured a commitment from the State of California to provide critical mental health care, including intensive care coordination and intensive home-based mental health services, to the State’s most vulnerable young people. Unfortunately, years later, thousands of youth identified as likely eligible for these services have yet to receive them. Young Minds’ dedicated and experienced advocates are working to change that.
Young Minds’ Impact
Thanks to the generous support of the Zellerbach Family Foundation and the McKenzie Foundation, Young Minds is working on a multi-faceted project to ensure the full potential of the Katie A. case is achieved. The project includes:
- Educating youth, families, and other allies in the Bay Area about the benefits and availability of intensive home and community-based services through trainings and other outreach efforts.
- Conducting investigative research and administrative advocacy to expand access to these services to all Medicaid-eligible youth in need.
- California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) policy limits intensive care coordination and intensive home based services to Katie A. subclass members, and excludes any youth who does not have an open child welfare case. As a result, thousands of low income children are being unlawfully denied access to medically necessary Medicaid-covered services.
- Mobilizing local mental health stakeholders to advocate for increased access to these services for themselves and their communities.
- Ensuring youth-led advocacy organizations have meaningful opportunities for involvement in the design and development of children’s mental health policies and programs.
The Katie A. settlement was likely the most important children’s mental health program development of the past decade. Taking steps now achieve the full potential of the landmark case will result in improved lives for thousands of young people living with serious unmet mental health needs.