Protect Mental Health Funding for Children and Youth

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We need your support to protect hard-fought mental health funding for children and youth! 

Sign on to this Children’s Movement letter urging Governor Newsom and the California Legislature to protect mental health funding for children and youth in changes to the MHSA. 

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Protect Funding for Children and Youth in Changes to the MHSA 

Dear Governor Newsom and State Legislators, 

The undersigned organizations urge you to include set-asides for children and youth, ages 0-25, in any changes to Proposition 63, also known as the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA). Since 2005, the MHSA has worked to fill in funding gaps where the State has underinvested, especially in the areas of prevention and children’s services that impact our infants and toddlers, school-age children, and transition age youth. We are deeply concerned by the current proposal, outlined in Senate Bill 326 (Eggman), to severely limit and re-route hard fought investments away from child-serving programs. 

According to recent data, rates of anxiety and depression among California’s children have shot up by 70% and one-third of California adolescents experienced serious psychological distress between 2019 and 2021, including a 20% increase in adolescent suicides. Despite overwhelming research and data documenting the youth mental health crisis in California, the proposed changes could ELIMINATE spending requirements on services for children and youth, which means counties would have the option to spend $0 on children’s mental health moving forward.  

We applaud the State’s recent investment in California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal (CalAIM) and the largely one-time investment of the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative (CYBHI). However, those investments have yet to be analyzed to understand if the promises of CalAIM and the CYBHI have been delivered. It is premature to reroute funds from the MHSA due to the introduction of CalAIM and the CYBHI, when we have yet to fully realize and understand the impact of these investments.

For years, children’s advocates have worked to ensure MHSA funding prioritizes children and youth given the historic lack of focus on this population. These efforts resulted in programs that address the broad spectrum of needs of children, youth and their caregivers/families, including services such as, but not limited to: 

  • Parent coaching and education programs like Triple P (Positive Parenting Program): a parent support program that helps parents learn strategies to promote social competence and self-regulation in children.  
  • Suicide Prevention with Schools: to support school age youth in identifying and referring individuals at risk of self-harm and suicidality.  
  • Kinship Supportive Services: to provide individual and group supportive services to grandparents and/or other relative caregivers who are raising a relative’s child(ren).  
  • School Based/Linked Behavioral Health Services, Supports, and Training: for ongoing support for all children and youth in schools, regardless of insurance status. These services continue in the community after school hours, during summers, and on weekends.  
  • Family Resource Centers: flexible, family-focused, and culturally sensitive hubs of support and resources that provide programs and targeted services based on the needs and interests of families. Family Resource Centers serve diverse populations and are located in a variety of community settings, including schools, housing, and stand-alone community-based programs. 

To continue addressing our state’s youth mental health crisis, we cannot divert or eliminate funding currently set-aside for children and youth and, therefore, urge the Governor and Legislature to set aside funds for children and youth ages 0-25 in every category of MHSA funding outlined in the proposed changes.  

The Undersigned Organizations