Changes Ordered to Mental Health Treatment for Foster Children
A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the state to pay for certain home- and community-based mental health services for foster children to keep them from being institutionalized, the Los Angeles Times reports (Hong, Los Angeles Times, 3/16).
U.S. District Judge A. Howard Matz ruled that state officials must begin providing "therapeutic foster care" and family-based "wraparound" services for foster children (Lee, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/16). In therapeutic foster care, foster parents are trained to oversee therapy. Wraparound services are a collaborative treatment effort by the child, family and government agents (Los Angeles Times, 3/16).
The state must begin providing such services in 120 days, Matz ruled (Marcucci, Oakland Tribune, 3/16).
The state must use federal Medi-Cal funds to pay for the services, Matz ruled (Los Angeles Times, 3/16). Currently, the state pays $540 million annually to care for 4,500 children in high-level group homes. Matz said there is "substantial evidence" that his ruling will save the state money (Anderson, Los Angeles Daily News, 3/16).
California officials must meet with the plaintiffs to develop an action plan and determine whether a special master to monitor the order should be appointed. A status report is due to the court within 70 days (Los Angeles Times, 3/16).