Oversight of County Mental Health Services for Foster Youth (2016)

SB 1291 (Beall)

Thousands of California foster children are medicated with psychotropic drugs without assurance that the treatment is safe and appropriate and that other treatments have been tried first. This bill aims to strengthen the oversight and accountability of the full range of mental health service delivery, from prevention through crisis, for foster youth. SB 1291 will equip counties with the information they need to bring about safe and appropriate mental health services for children in foster care.

California does not have a comprehensive approach to oversee and monitor the mental health services available to foster youth. The delivery, oversight and accountability for mental health services is split between two state departments for foster youth: the Department of Social Services (DSS) and the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS).

DSS is obligated to ensure children in their care receive mental health services, yet DHCS oversees the funding, services and providers. To eliminate a troubling gap in the coordination of services, SB 1291 calls for consolidating data from existing sources into a single existing review process, the External Quality Review Organization, under the oversight of the appropriate regulatory agency, Department of Health Care Services (DHCS).

This bill provides more accountability and oversight for the delivery of mental health services. It also addresses the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ concerns about California’s lack of oversight and monitoring of services delivered under the 1915 (b) waiver.