California Foster Care, Mental Health Reforms

Under a new agreement, California will begin providing intensive mental health services, both home- and community-based, for children in foster care or at risk of entering the foster care system as part of the early periodic screening, diagnosis and treatment (EPSDT) requirements mandated by federal law.

The new services will be available to a class of children covered under Medicaid, a requirement virtually all foster kids and those at risk of entering foster care meet, according to advocates.

The agreement is the result of a settlement reached after nearly two years of negotiations in a class action suite, Katie A. v. Bonta, aimed at statewide child welfare and health reform. The case, first filed more than nine years ago, charges county and state agencies with neglecting to provide federally-mandated mental health services to children in the state’s foster care system.

The California suit is just one of many that is in the process of or has already been filed across the country seeking to force states to comply with federal Medicaid requirements concerning the well-being of children.