California Settles Lawsuit on Children’s Mental Health Care
On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge A. Howard Matz finalized a settlement requiring the state to offer mental health care services through Medi-Cal to children in foster care and children at risk of leaving their families, the AP/San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
In 2002, children's advocates filed a class-action lawsuit against the California Department of Social Services, the Department of Health Services and several Los Angeles County agencies.
The lawsuit stated that one of the plaintiffs, a child in California's foster care system, did not receive an adequate psychological assessment and did not receive mental health treatment until two years after she was placed in foster care.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs have argued that failing to diagnose conditions or supply sufficient mental health care services to children ultimately could lead to psychiatric hospitalizations andÂ entry into the juvenile delinquency system.
Los Angeles County settled the case in 2003 and has:
- Boosted access to treatment;
- Established in-home mental health care services; and
- Implemented a system to track children who receive such services.
The state reached a preliminary settlement in the case in September (California Healthline, 9/30).
Details of the Settlement
The finalized settlement requires the state to provide intensive home-based services and intensive care coordination to certain children under Medi-Cal.
In addition, the settlementÂ calls on California to boost coordination between local and state agencies to improve mental health services for children in foster care.
The settlement set a deadline of three years for full implementation of the changes (AP/San Diego Union-Tribune, 12/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.