California is set to make a big investment in treating parents and children together

Los Angeles Times  •  Jul 9, 2021

This story quotes First 5 Managing Director Sarah Crow.

When a parent takes an infant to the Children’s Health Center in San Francisco for a routine checkup, a pediatrician will check the baby’s vitals and ask how the child is doing at home.

Then Janelle Bercun, a licensed clinical social worker, who is also in the room, will look at Mom or Dad and pipe up: What is this like for you? Your frustrations? Joys? Challenges? And she stays to work with the parent long after the pediatrician has left.

The facility’s team-based treatment is a pilot project, funded by philanthropies. Yet the approach, which California may soon incorporate on a large scale, could hold the key to fostering a healthy home environment where children thrive, child development experts say. Incorporating therapy for the parents, they say, can lower a child’s risk of future mental disorders stemming from family trauma and adversity.

Pediatricians’ offices generally don’t offer formal counseling or guidance to a child’s guardian because they can’t bill insurance for these services. That could soon change for the roughly 5.4 million children on Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program for low-income residents, and their parents.

Read the full story in the Los Angeles TImes.

This story was also published in California Healthline, Kaiser Health News, and the Vallejo Times-Herald.

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