Assessing the California Children's Services Program

Valerie Lewis, MPH, MPA

This issue brief provides an overview of the California Children's Services program, examines its strengths and shortcomings, and outlines key areas for further analysis and action by state policymakers.

August 2009

Established in 1927, the California Children's Services (CCS) program is one of the oldest public health care programs in the nation. Today, it provides essential coverage for more than 165,000 children with special health care needs, including those with cancer, diabetes, and conditions related to premature birth. However, in addition to its ranking as the state's most venerable program, CCS is also among the most complex and has come under considerable pressure to control its costs.

This issue brief provides an overview of the CCS program, including eligibility and coverage policies, administration and financing, delivery system structure, characteristics of the enrolled population, and spending trends. It also discusses the state of the CCS program, identifying its inherent strengths as well as the challenges it faces. The final section argues for an overhaul of the program and outlines key avenues for analysis and action on the part of policymakers.

The complete issue brief is available under Document Downloads.