County Ends Children’s Mental Health Services Contracts
Fresno County will cancel contracts with private companies that provide mental health care for about 900 children, as the county Department of Children and Family Services works to balance its budget, the Fresno Bee reports.
Catherine Huerta, acting director of children and family services for the county, said canceling the contracts was necessary to avoid cuts to other children's programs. The contracts are worth a total of $6 million.
The county on Monday will begin to take over services for children receiving care from Families First and Mental Health Systems. Contracts with the California Psychological Institute and Genesis will be canceled at the end of December.
County Mental Health Advisory Board members criticized the move, saying the community should have been more involved in the decision.
Huerta said she will evaluate the county program monthly to ensure children receive quality care. The county plans to model its care program after Families First's services, in which a team provides care to children and families inside their homes, Huerta said.
In addition, the county has made arrangements with the California Psychological Institute to provide services to 66 Families First children with medication needs, according to Huerta (Anderson, Fresno Bee, 6/29).
By "neglect[ing]" the mental health care needs for children and adolescents in Fresno County, "we've chosen to take on" mental illnesses in adults, "when it's most difficult and most expensive to treat," according to a Bee editorial. The editorial states that the county "needs to invest in healing our sick sons and daughters, not just incarcerating them," noting that there is "ample evidence that with effective early treatment, recovery from mental illness is possible for most adolescents" (Fresno Bee, 6/29).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.