Governor signs bill to eliminate 20-year gap in mental health care for foster youth

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

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

SACRAMENTO, CA – Governor Brown signed AB 1299 by Assemblymember Ridley-Thomas, making it clear that mental health services must be available to foster youth no matter where they live.  This historic legislation puts to rest a decades long issue.  Until now, foster youth have had to wait, often for months, to access mental health services every time they move from county to county. The Steinberg Institute and The California Alliance for Children and Families lead the effort to ensure the wait time is over for these kids.

“With this law in place, all foster kids are assured of receiving the mental health services they need, when they need them,” said Darrell Steinberg, Founder of the Steinberg Institute and Mayor-elect of Sacramento. “It is high time we do right by these kids, who have already gone through so much suffering.”

For the past twenty years, when a foster child is moved from one county to another in California, their mental health care has not transferred with them. There are nearly 13,000 foster youth who are moved from county to county at any given time in California and the health care needs of these already traumatized children frequently go unmet for months at time.  With Governor Brown’s signature, AB 1299 puts 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.

“This law is about eliminating the costly mistakes of the past and treating all foster children equally” said Anna Hasselblad, Public Policy Director of the Steinberg Institute. “By establishing a straight forward process for counties to provide mental health services to the foster youth residing within their borders, we are ensuring rightful access to care for a population that desperately needs it.”

Through a strong partnership with Governor Brown’s administration, advocates, and the counties, California is now on its way towards dramatically improving access to mental health care for thousands of foster kids across the state.



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