Our Work

Why We Need to Act Now

The California Children’s Trust was established to transform the administration, delivery and financing of our child-serving systems to ensure that they are equity-driven and accountable for improved child health outcomes. We seek to promote and facilitate an emerging statewide consensus on the need for change, and an unprecedented commitment to collective action to create integrated and accountable child-serving systems that will transform outcomes for children, youth, and families.

  1. Californians agree on the need for early, proactive, and clinically effective supports for children’s developmental and behavioral health.
  2. There are promising trauma-informed practices that address health equity and can support the transformation of child-serving systems.
  3. We can improve administration and financing to leverage the $2.5 billion of unspent county and state mental health funds as a powerful driver of change.
  4. The next three years present a unique set of opportunities to transform public systems: an incoming administration, a robust state economy, and the renegotiation of California’s Medicaid plan.

Policy Briefs

Promoting and facilitating a statewide consensus around the transformation of children’s mental health requires thoughtful policy discussion. Our goal is to present data, analysis and perspectives in clear, concise terms so everyone can engage in and advance the conversation.

May 2020

Title: Babies Don’t Go to the Doctor By Themselves: Innovating a Dyadic Behavioral Health Payment Model to Serve the Youngest Primary Care Patients and Their Families

Key Points: A collaboration between California Children’s Trust and the UCSF/Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center/Children’s Health Center to propose a one-year pilot project to demonstrate the clinical benefit and impact of aligning reimbursement for mild to moderate mental health services with dyadic models.

September 2019

Title: Whole-Family Wellness for Early Childhood: A New Model for Medi-Cal Delivery and Financing

Key Points: Co-developed by CCT and the First 5 Center for Children’s Policy, this brief describes our vision for a new approach for California to conceptualize, deliver, and fund a system of care—grounded in family wellness—for Medi-Cal eligible infants and toddlers.

July 2019

Title: Financing New Approaches to Achieve Child Well Being

November 2018

Title: The California Children’s Trust Initiative: Reimagining Child Well-Being

Key points: This brief describes the history of California’s mental health policies and financing that have impacted children over the last several decades, and presents a new evolution and possibilities for child well-being.

Actions you can take: Join the Coalition

Legislation We Support

Assembly Bill 898: Children’s Behavioral Health

AB 898 would help advance health equity and improve the children’s behavioral health system in California.

Letter to Secretary Ghaly in Support of Creating a Cross-sector, Child-focused Forum to Address Children’s Behavioral Health
This letter, addressed to Secretary Ghaly, provides background information on the need for AB898, or a child-focused forum, to address the crisis in children’s behavioral health.

Download the support letter template and fact sheet with background information on AB 898.

Per the new instructions from the Legislature this year, support letters need to be submitted through the California Legislature Advocates Portal. Please send a copy of your support letter to sean@socialchangepartners.com and/or email him if you have trouble submitting through the portal.

Action Toolkit

We urge you to take action to help us achieve health equity, and healthy development, for California’s children, youth, and families. Here are some simple steps that you can take right now:

Step 1: If you haven’t already, Sign Up for our Newsletter.

Step 2: Build awareness by reading and sharing our overview presentation, fact sheet, and other timely communications.

Step 3: Share our work , , and LinkedIn.

Step 4: Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to stay up-to-date on our response to Medi-Cal Healthier California for All and other important policy changes.

Response to COVID-19

The following are recommendations and resources created and/or endorsed by the California Children’s Trust to help sustain mental and behavioral health supports for children and youth during the COVID-19 pandemic.


California Children’s Trust outlines three specific and immediate actions counties are taking to ensure we can Enable Telehealth, Maximize Medi-Cal Financing and Save the Safety Net.

Use this real-time County Action Tracker to see which counties have either voted to, or committed to, implementing the safety net strategies in the accompanying document titled “Stabilize and Sustain Youth Behavioral Health During COVID-19”. The tracker lists the actions counties are taking, and the number of Medi-Cal covered children and families that will be impacted.

California Children’s Trust has partnered in crafting recommendations to sustain behavioral health infrastructure and provide for continuity of essential mental health services for children.


Supporting the Social and Emotional Health of Children During COVID-19

In this presentation for a webinar hosted on March 27, California Children’s Trust’s Alex Briscoe, along with partners from California Alliance and Child Mind Institute, discussed concrete opportunities for funders to help stabilize and strengthen the fragile children’s mental health system. Learn about state and federal actions, adoption by local jurisdictions, and the current reality facing the delivery and financial viability of safety net programs and services.

Clinical Guidelines for COVID-19 Response

For mental health providers working with first responders, this Toolkit provides the “5 C’s of COVID-19”, a set of trauma-informed guidelines to support first responders who are working on the frontlines to help families and individuals.

Virtual Town Hall for Older Foster Youth

For funders and providers supporting older foster youth, this Town Hall presented concerns and needs from youth during this time of crisis, and provided ideas for increased support from child welfare experts including Jerry Milner, (Associate Commissioner at the Children’s Bureau in the Administration of Children and Families).

Behavioral Health Coronavirus Resources

A comprehensive list of Federal, state, and local updates and resources for Medicaid and MediCal providers of behavioral health services for children and youth.

Mental Health and Stress Management Resources for Children, Families, and Caregivers During COVID-19

Supporting Students During COVID-19

Resources for students, parents and educators to help ensure continued learning and connections to community supports.

Data & Backgrounders

California Children & Youth Services Dashboard
State and County Data, FY13-14 to FY 16-17

California Children’s Trust has compiled a detailed summary of Specialty Mental Health Services delivered to various child and youth populations across the state. The dashboards enable county administrators and providers to identify important trends and comparisons at a local, regional and state level.

Overall Take-Aways

  • There have been striking increases in utilization and acuity for children across the state.
  • State and Federal Policy actions have increased MediCal Enrollment by over 30%.
  • Penetration and access rates have declined from already low rates.
  • Base non-federal revenues have increased significantly.
  • The penetration and access rates for children in foster care have remained flat.

A Promise from the Past Holds Potential for the Future:  The History of the EPSDT Benefit in Medicaid

Department of Health Policy

Key Principles

To demonstrate statewide commitment to providing California’s children and their families with a better system of care, we invite you to affirm our Key Principles:

  1. Early intervention is critical to healthy development. California faces a crisis regarding the social, emotional, and developmental health of our children. We must invest in early and proactive interventions to protect and promote the well-being of our children.
  2. California needs to widen access to behavioral health supports. Children and families need access to a range of behavioral health approaches and strategies that nurture social, emotional and developmental health.
  3. Racism and poverty contribute to health inequities across California. Improving children’s and families experiences and addressing health inequities, structural racism, and multi-generational poverty perpetuated in current systems are central to improving child well-being in California.
  4. Collaborative and accountable systems change is the way forward. We need an integrated and coordinated statewide redesign of our child-serving systems that holds itself accountable to children and families.
  5. The time for change is now. We have a unique opportunity–right now– to change California’s policies, financing and fragmented service delivery systems to improve children’s behavioral health and well-being.

Join us in demonstrating your support for these Key Principles.