Why We Need a New System of Care for California’s Youngest Children and Their Families

The Chronicle of Social Change  •  Sep 25, 2019

One of the co-authors of "Whole-Family Wellness for Early Childhood: A New Model for Medi-Cal Delivery and Financing," co-released by the First 5 Center for Children's Policy and the California Children's Trust, Alex Briscoe discusses the need for family- and community-centered care for young children in Medi-Cal.

In a paper released today, the California Children’s Trust and the First 5 Center for Children’s Policy propose a paradigm shift in how California conceptualizes, delivers and funds a system of care for MediCal eligible infants, toddlers and their families.

Whole-Family Wellness for Early Childhood: A New Model for MediCal Delivery and Financing is co-authored by Ken Epstein and Alicia F. Lieberman of the University of California, San Francisco — two of our state’s leading lights on mental health, youth development and dyadic therapy — along with myself and Nila Rosen of the California’s Children Trust.

The California Children’s Trust is a coalition-supported initiative to re-imagine how California defines, funds, administers and delivers children’s social, emotional, developmental and mental health supports and services. We serve a coalition of more than 400 community-based organizations, providers, administrators and advocates partnering to confront systemic failures, institutional racism and social inequities in California’s behavioral health and child-serving systems.

The crisis we formed to confront is real. Self-reported mental health needs for children have increased 61 percent since 2005. Hospitalizations for suicidal thoughts and attempts have gone up 104 percent over the past decade and intentional self-injury rates have doubled. Nationally, suicide is now one of the leading causes of death for children, outpacing cancer and car accidents.

Read the rest of the story here.