Access to Mental Health Services for Children with Special Health Care Needs

Executive Summary

Children with special health care needs (CSHCN) are a particularly vulnerable population who use an array of mental health services.  CSHCN are at increased risk for chronic physical, developmental, behavioral or emotional conditions and require health and related services beyond that required by children generally.

In the fall of 2016, with funding from the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children?s Health, the National Health Law Program (NHeLP) surveyed a targeted group of those who work to provide access to services for CSHCN in California. The survey identified access to mental health care and counseling as the service most difficult for CSHCN in California to access.

This May, NHeLP brought together stakeholders from around California to discuss the survey findings, and identify opportunities to improve access for CSHCN, with a particular focus on legal interventions. This document sets forth the survey findings and the legal framework for access to mental health services for children in California, and proposes initial recommendations that helped guide the convening to meet those goals.

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