As the debate over the need for a comprehensive health care program in
California raged this winter, a child-welfare group released an assessment of
California's health care and educational standing that gave the state a"
C" in children's mental health care (see Calif. Lawmakers Wrangle
Over Insurance Mandates).
The "California Report Card 2008" by Children Now, a nonprofit
and nonpartisan child-advocacy organization, was based on a range of
statistics, including findings that nearly half a million California children
have "unmet mental health needs."
The report cites in particular mental health care needs among children in
the state's foster-care system and echoes previous findings by the UCLA Center
for Health Policy Research that more than half of such children had no medical
care before entering the foster-care system.
"We do know that there is a huge gap in services there for this
particular population," said Randall Hagar, director of government
affairs for the California Psychiatric Association (CPA).
The report card comes as CPA is urging passage of legislation (AB 1330) to
require a comprehensive health assessment of all children in California's
foster system. Such a first-time comprehensive assessment would provide needed
data to indicate to policymakers how to correct health care shortcomings in
the foster system, according to Hagar.