Make Our Mental Health System Accountable for Colorado Children, Youth, and Families
Colorado is one of the physically healthiest states in the nation, yet we rank in the bottom half of the country for children’s mental health, based on prevalence of conditions and access to treatment. In Colorado, responsibility and authority for children’s mental health care is dispersed among multiple state agencies and local governments. This fragmentation can lead to lack of coordination, accountability, and flexibility so that children miss early intervention services, receive duplicated support, and need more costly treatments in the long run.
We will partner with stakeholders to urge the Colorado General Assembly to create a “Children and Youth Behavioral Health Commission” composed of child-serving state agency leaders and an advisory body that includes families, community partners, and mental health providers that will work to transform how Colorado’s mental health system operates.
Strengthening A System of Care
In Colorado, multiple child-serving agencies pay for intensive mental health services, including costly inpatient and residential mental health treatment services. From 2010 to 2011, 4,020 children received over $95 million in residential and inpatient services, with the largest proportion paid by the child welfare system.
A “system of care” is a better approach to delivering services based on partnerships that create a broad, integrated process for meeting families’ complex needs. States and communities that have adopted a system of care approach have improved mental health outcomes for youth and realized cost savings for both state and local governments.