Steinberg Institute

Press release: CA lawmakers address 20-year gap in mental health care for foster youth

Posted on Monday, August 29, 2016

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Maggie Merritt at 916-553-4167.

Advocates, counties and state agencies come together on landmark legislation, ensuring foster youth access to care. 

SACRAMENTO, CA – The entire California State Legislature has made it clear that mental health care services must be available to foster youth no matter where they live.  With the Governor’s signature, AB 1299, by Assemblymember Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles), will put a decades long issue to rest.  Until now, foster youth have had to wait, sometimes for months, to access mental health services every time they move from county to county. The Steinberg Institute and The California Alliance for Child and Family Services lead the effort to ensure the wait time is over for these kids.

Currently, when a foster child or teenager is moved from one county to another in California, their mental health care does not transfer with them.   There are nearly 13,000 foster youth who are moved from county to county at any given time in California and the mental health care needs of these already traumatized children frequently goes unmet for months at time.  With Governor Brown’s signature, AB 1299 will put an end to this horrific reality by creating the immediate transfer and payment of services to the new county to ensure that these kids receive the care they need, as soon as they need it.

“Right now, many of our state’s foster youth face an unnecessary and inhumane hurdle when it comes to getting the care. AB 1299 offers a common sense solution to this problem,” said Darrell Steinberg, Founder of the Steinberg Institute and Mayor-elect of Sacramento. “The lives of thousands of foster youth will be improved by this legislation.”

“No foster child should be denied mental health care because they were moved to a different county,” said Anna Hasselblad, Public Policy Director of the Steinberg Institute. “Once AB 1299 is signed into law, each of these kids – who have already suffered more than most – will receive the mental health care they are guaranteed under law.”

Through a strong partnership with advocates, the counties, the Department of Health Care Services, Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Finance, California is on its way towards improving access to mental health care for thousands of foster youth across the state.



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