Foster Youth Mental Health Initiative
Too often, children living in foster care fail to receive mental health services until their situation reaches a crisis, and extreme or harmful behavior occurs. Even when care is provided, a lack of coordination among the child welfare system, mental health providers, schools, and others integral to the child's life can result in lack of consistency and fragmented treatment. As a result, more than half of former foster youth now in their twenties and early thirties report clinical levels of major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, social phobia, panic syndrome, anxiety, or drug dependence.
With generous funding from The California Endowment, Children’s Law Center established the Foster Youth Mental Health Initiative to help generate lasting change in the delivery of mental health services to foster youth. The CLC Foster Youth Mental Health Initiative, spanning three years, is charged with calling attention to the mental health needs of this at-risk population, crafting recommendations for system change, and working toward implementation of new approaches.
As a first step, a Mental Health Summit brought together mental health clinicians, social workers, foster parents, relative caregivers, advocates, community leaders, and youth to identify and develop concrete, workable solutions regarding provision of mental health services for foster children in Los Angeles County. Key recommendations growing out of the Mental Health Summit include ensuring timely and quality screenings and assessments, instituting early intervention and prevention programs, promoting evidence based practices, enhancing access to services, facilitating system collaboration and communication, and enhancing the voice of youth in this process. Consistent themes center on the need for better communication, collaboration, and oversight among the multiple systems charged with caring for abused and neglected children.
Mental Health Summit Report
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