Centering Schools

School-Centered Mental Health Reform

More than 60% of California’s children in public schools rely on Medi-Cal for their healthcare needs—physical, mental, and social-emotional. This number is increasing with the widening income gap caused by COVID-19.

Additionally, children’s mental and social-emotional needs have been exacerbated by the endless challenges, stress and trauma they faced during the pandemic, adding to an already troubling uptick in mental health needs.

Schools must be at the heart of our efforts to connect with and heal youth, but all child-serving systems need to break through historical silos and provide a robust, coordinated response to identifying and meeting children’s needs, early and effectively.

Issue Briefs and Tools

October 2022 Webinar Series: The Path to Funding Racially Just, Relationship Centered Schools

In partnership with the California Department of Education, we developed and delivered this 4-part webinar series to share and discuss practical and immediate steps for using Medi-Cal as a tool for building connected and racially just schools.

Session 1
Medi-Cal 101: The Financing Foundation

Session 2
Financing and Sustaining School Health Programs

Session 3
Essential Building Blocks for School Health Programs

Session 4
Understanding an Unprecedented Reform Landscape

February 2022: YOUTH SUPPORTING YOUTH: Expanding Peer-to-Peer Programs in Schools to Address the Growing Youth Mental Health Crisis

This brief and the accompanying Q&A with co-author and youth mental health advocate Nghia Do build a case for expanding school-based peer-to-peer programs to youth ages 14 – 17, provide examples of current promising programs, and examine the implementation of SB 803 as a foundation for this new provider class.

November 2021: SCHOOL MENTAL HEALTH 101: A Primer for Medi-Cal Managed Care Plans

The goal of this primer, developed in partnership with the National Center for Youth Law (NCYL), California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF), and Hopelab, is to facilitate effective partnerships between Managed Care Plans (MCPs) and Schools to address the growing mental health crisis among school-age youth.


This brief and the accompanying presentation presents 5 models, and a step-by-step guide, for education leaders to claim millions of dollars of Medicaid funding to increase supports for the social and emotional needs of students.

* California Children’s Trust quisiera reconocer a PICO CA Education for Liberation y Marina Martínez de Arriba! Linguistic Services por la traducción de esta presentación.


California Children’s Trust was honored to work in partnership with PACE, Californians for Justice, and Advancement Project California to create guidance for educators, policymakers, and advocates who wish to deploy state and federal recovery resources to address immediate student needs and build sustainable systems and practices that serve all students and advance equity. A healing-centered community school implements a whole child approach to teaching and learning to address the fundamental physiological and safety needs of students as central to their cognitive development and growth.