The Assembly Health Committee unanimously passed Assembly Bill 741 by Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Carpinteria, which would create a category of licensing in state statute for children’s mental health crisis residential centers.

“Kids experiencing emotional and behavioral crises should stay close to home and their support network to receive services,” Williams said. “This practice reduces emotional distress and the risk of recurring hospitalizations.”

Statewide, inpatient psychiatric facilities currently have fewer than 70 beds for all children age 11 and under. The absence of inpatient residential services combined with the dwindling number of beds has become a critical issue.

This bill would allow Medi-Cal to cover services provided to children at social rehabilitation facilities in addition to the adults currently served. This licensing category provides a much larger and more comprehensive continuum of care for children.

“No child in crisis should have to wait for three days in a hospital emergency room before an inpatient psychiatric bed can be located four hours from the child’s home,” said Carroll Schroeder, executive director of the California Alliance of Child and Family Services.

— Lourdes Jimenez is the chief of staff for Assemblyman Das Williams.