Children

For Low-Income Children, Access to Mental Health Care Varies Sharply by County

Statistics show kids and teens in Orange County use specialty mental health services at a lower rate than children in most other counties in the state. Fewer than 2 percent of Medi-Cal-enrolled youth under age 21 in Orange County consistently received a specialty mental health service in fiscal year 2015 to 2016.

At the other end of the spectrum are counties like San Francisco, where almost 5 percent of San Francisco’s Medi-Cal enrolled kids came into regular contact with the SMHS system in that time. While the percentage differences appear small, they represent potentially tens of thousands of kids in lower-performing counties who are missing out on mental health care.

In San Joaquin, Two Medi-Cal Health Plans Struggle to Improve Quality

Two health plans that serve low-income residents in the Central Valley have consistently failed to meet state standards, recent reports show.

Health Net of San Joaquin and Health Plan San Joaquin, which serve nearly a quarter million Medi-Cal patients combined, failed to meet the state’s minimum performance levels for Medi-Cal health plans since at least 2016.

Give Youth an Escape Route from Addiction

Every time a young person who suffers from addiction reaches out for help, we have an incredible and precious opportunity to find the road back to the youth’s full potential. Wasting that opportunity isn’t just a waste of public dollars, it is a matter of life or death.

That is why my organization, the California Society of Addiction Medicine, is sponsoring legislation, Senate Bill 275, to create clear standards for youth substance use disorder prevention, early intervention and treatment.

Few Low-Income Children Get Mental Health Care in California, Despite Need

In California, the state’s key program for providing mental health treatment to low-income children and youth under age 21 serves just a fraction of those estimated to need help, statistics show. And while the pool of children potentially eligible for these services has expanded under the Affordable Care Act, the percentage of kids actually receiving help has declined since 2010, a California Health Report analysis has found.

Budget Boosts Funding for Programs Benefiting Low-Income Families

Advocates for young children are applauding the state’s budget plans for next fiscal year, which include millions of dollars for programs that help low-income parents and kids.

The $200-billion spending plan, which Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign into law, increases funding for cash assistance to poor families, launches a statewide home visiting program for new parents on welfare, and makes available more than 13,000 new vouchers to help low-income families pay for child care.

Doctor’s Notes: Head Start Offers Better Beginnings for School, Resilience for Life

Most of my patients are low-income and many have faced adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, which can cause lifelong physical and mental health problems. After years of working with low-income families, I’ve come to believe that combating ACEs contributes as much to a child’s academic success as learning the ABCs. That’s why Head Start is one of my weapons in the War on Poverty. It changes lives, one kid at a time.

Californians with Unsafe Tap Water may See Relief with Budget Trailer Bill

Every month, Bartolo Chavez goes to the Arvin Community Services District building to pay his water bill for the home he and his wife live in. But he doesn’t use that water for drinking or cooking. To drink, he buys bottled water. For cooking, also bottled water.

This is the way of life in Arvin, where the tap water has been in violation of state health standards for arsenic since 2006.

Bills Seek to Bolster Children’s Mental Health

As California struggles to meet children’s mental health needs, lawmakers are pressing for two bills that would take steps to address the problem.

The bills seek to strengthen mental health services for children and youth, either through targeted funding or by instituting new training requirements for people who regularly work with young people.

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