Resource Development Associates

Collaborative Approach to Children’s Mental Health

By John Cervetto, M.S.W.

In 2011, the passage of California Assembly Bill 114 realigned the responsibility of providing Education Related Mental Health Services from county mental health departments to Local Education Agencies.  While this bill recognized the importance of local control of special education funds by school districts, the realignment of funds has resulted in some confusion across the State regarding how agencies work together to ensure that the mental health needs of children and their families are met.

In 2015, the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services collaborated with leadership from local school districts, as well as youth serving systems such as child welfare and juvenile justice, to address some of the challenges across the County’s children’s mental health system of care. The Education Leadership Board partnered with RDA to assess the mental health needs of County children and youth, and to lead a planning process to define priority areas and develop strategies to create better alignment and coordination of care across education and mental health systems.

The needs assessment found that many barriers to accessing mental health services – such as provider shortages, awareness of availability, and transportation – were consistent with challenges in rural counties across the State.  At the same time, a number of strengths emerged that were unique to Humboldt County, including high levels of community connectedness among families and a shared belief among students that their school is a safe and supportive environment. The planning process recognized these strengths and looked for ways to leverage them to improve communication and coordination across the school and county systems. The Education Leadership Boards efforts have built a healthy partnership and mutual understanding across various stakeholders in Humboldt County’s children’s mental health system of care.  This new partnership sets a foundation to increase availability and accessibility of care, increase early interventions, and, ultimately, improve outcomes for the County’s children, youth, and families.

For more information on the needs assessment and planning process, including detailed descriptions of RDA’s recommendations and strategies, you can download the report here.

 

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