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Legal Resources | Welfare and Institutions Code |    5851  

The Children's Mental Health Services Act; Interagency System of Care; Legislative Finding and Intent   

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(a) The Legislature finds and declares that there is no comprehensive county interagency system throughout California for the delivery of mental health services to seriously emotionally and behaviorally disturbed children and their families. Specific problems to be addressed include the following:

(1) The population of children which should receive highest priority for services has not been defined.

(2) Clear and objective client outcome goals for children receiving services have not been specified.

(3) Although seriously emotionally and behaviorally disturbed children usually have multiple disabilities, the many different state and county agencies, particularly education, social services, juvenile justice, health, and mental health agencies, with shared responsibility for these individuals, do not always collaborate to develop and deliver integrated and cost-effective programs.

(4) A range of community-based treatment, case management, and interagency system components required by children with serious emotional disturbances has not been identified and implemented.

(5) Service delivery standards that ensure culturally competent care in the most appropriate, least restrictive environment have not been specified and required.

(6) The mental health system lacks accountability and methods to measure progress towards client outcome goals and cost-effectiveness. There are also no requirements for other state and county agencies to collect or share relevant data necessary for the mental health system to conduct this evaluation.

(b) The Legislature further finds and declares that the model developed in Ventura County beginning in the 1984-85 fiscal year through the implementation of Chapter 1474 of the Statutes of 1984 and expanded to the Counties of Santa Cruz, San Mateo, and Riverside in the 1989-90 fiscal year pursuant to Chapter 1361 of the Statutes of 1987, provides a comprehensive, interagency system of care for seriously emotionally and behaviorally disturbed children and their families and has successfully met the performance outcomes required by the Legislature. The Legislature finds that this accountability for outcome is a defining characteristic of a system of care as developed under this part. It finds that the system established in these four counties can be expanded statewide to provide greater benefit to children with serious emotional and behavioral disturbances at a lower cost to the taxpayers. It finds further that substantial savings to the state and these four counties accrue annually, as documented by the independent evaluator provided under this part. Of the amount continuing to be saved by the state in its share of out-of-home placement costs and special education costs for those counties and others currently funded by this part, a portion is hereby reinvested to expand and maintain statewide the system of care for children with serious emotional and behavioral disturbances.

(c) Therefore, using the Ventura County model guidelines, it is the intent of the Legislature to accomplish the following:

(1) To phase in the system of care for children with serious emotional and behavioral problems developed under this part to all counties within the state.

(2) To require that 100 percent of the new funds appropriated under this part be dedicated to the targeted population as defined in Sections 5856 and 5856.2. To this end, it is the intent of the Legislature that families of eligible children be involved in county program planning and design and, in all cases, be involved in the development of individual child treatment plans.

(3) To expand interagency collaboration and shared responsibility for seriously emotionally and behaviorally disturbed children in order to do the following:

(A) Enable children to remain at home with their families whenever possible.

(B) Enable children placed in foster care for their protection to remain with a foster family in their community as long as separation from their natural family is determined necessary by the juvenile court.

(C) Enable special education pupils to attend public school and make academic progress.

(D) Enable juvenile offenders to decrease delinquent behavior.

(E) Enable children requiring out-of-home placement in licensed residential group homes or psychiatric hospitals to receive that care in as close proximity as possible to the child's usual residence.

(F) Separately identify and categorize funding for these services.

(4) To increase accountability by expanding the number of counties with a performance contract that requires measures of client outcome and cost avoidance.

(d) It is the intent of the Legislature that the outcomes prescribed by this section shall be achieved regardless of the cultural or ethnic origin of the seriously emotionally and behaviorally disturbed children and their families.

(Amended by Stats. 2000, Ch. 520, Sec. 1.)