School Mental Health 101: A Primer for Medi-Cal Managed Care Plans

National Center for Youth Law
California Children’s Trust


During 2020 and 2021, California’s children and youth have faced endless new challenges, stressors, and trauma, exacerbating an already troubling uptick in mental health needs. Many students have returned to in-person learning with new or heightened fears, anxieties, and emotional needs. Families, teachers, and school staff are helping students navigate this reality while also recovering from two academic years of severe learning loss. In under-resourced schools and communities — which have borne the brunt of the crisis — the challenge is especially staggering.

Earlier this year, California announced it would invest more than $4 billion in the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative, a multipronged effort to improve mental health care for the state’s children and youth. One component of this investment is an incentive program for Medi-Cal managed care plans (MCPs), intended to foster partnerships with schools and to increase access to school-based and school-linked care for students on Medi-Cal. This is an important opportunity for MCPs to expand their reach and impact and contribute to children’s mental health and wellness.

The National Center for Youth Law (NCYL) and the California Children’s Trust (CCT), with financial support from Hopelab and CHCF, developed School Mental Health 101: A Primer for Medi-Cal Managed Care Plans (PDF) to provide MCPs with an introduction to California’s vast and complex K-12 education system.

About the Authors
The primary author is Rachel Velcoff Hults of NCYL, and the coauthors are Alex Briscoe, Aimee Eng, and Claudia Page of CCT.