Guidance Issued to Implement AB 1299
Behavioral Health Services for Out-of-County Foster Kids
July 20, 2017
Counties now have some guidance on the implementation of AB 1299 (Chapter 603, Statutes of 2016), which was developed to ensure timely behavioral health services for foster children who are placed in a county other than the one in which they lived.
AB 1299 was developed after a nearly two-year legislative process with the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), the Department of Social Services (DSS), the California Alliance for Child and Family Services, county affiliates, and other stakeholders. The measure requires the presumptive transfer of behavioral health services from the county of jurisdiction to the county of residence for any child placed out of the county of jurisdiction. The aim is to ensure that all foster children receive timely behavioral health services regardless of their physical placement. By instituting presumptive transfer, counties now have guidance on the time and manner of the critical transfer of necessary behavioral health services.
AB 1299 required implementation as of July 1, but DHCS and DSS, after extensive input from counties and other stakeholders, released the first All County Letter on AB 1299 implementation on July 14.
The letter provides guidance outlining the duties of the placing agencies – either county Child Welfare Services or County Probation Departments – as well as both the original and host county mental health plans. It also includes guidance on how the county, the plan, the child, or the child’s representative can seek to waive the presumptive transfer.
There is still more work to be done on implementing AB 1299, including further conversation and guidance on how an expedited transfer would work, the duties of the placing agencies, and how notification and communication between counties and other professionals should occur.
We want to thank the California Alliance for their technical assistance on the development of the letter, and DHCS and DSS for their attention to county concerns surrounding earlier drafts of the letter. California’s county supervisors are committed to continue working with all stakeholders on AB 1299 implementation, and ultimately, to ensure that all foster children who are placed in a different county continue to receive critical behavioral health services.