California Child Mental Health Program Ends Due To State Budget Cuts

September 08, 2009

Due to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s $64 million cut in managed-care funding in the state of California, a Fresno County mental-health program for children will be terminated and the plans for a psychiatric unit for adults, delayed. No state-mandated services are being dropped, although State officials have said “the definition of what is mandated is open to interpretation.”

In response to the budget cut, the outpatient care contract with the Genesis Family Center is not being renewed, sending 100 more children out to local county psychologists. As a result, group therapy, in contrast to individual sessions, is the new focus for children with “nonsevere illnesses.” Due to this shift in focus, the waitlist for care was eliminated. Kathy Sullivan, a psychologist and founder of the Sullivan Center for Children, is staying positive. She is confident that Fresno Country will try to soften the effects of the financial cuts. The county is in effort of revamping child mental health care programs that have already survived through previous budget cuts to see them through the current situation.

“My biggest concern is that we’re going to lose the ability to do preventative care,” Catherine Huerta, the director of Children and Family Services said. “I don’t want to become a county that waits until children become severely mentally ill before getting treatment.” To limit the amount of layoffs due to the cut, Huerta plans to tap another funding source, the Mental Health Services Act, to minimize layoffs of county employees.


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