Children’s Mental Health Policy Development: Opportunities to Become Involved

CMHACY’s policy focus is to improve the behavioral health of California’s children and youth. We operationalized this focus by stating: All children, youth, and their families should have timely access to the right service, at the right time, in the right place, and in the right amount.

As you have seen from our weekly newsletters, the CMHACY Board of Directors and Friends are more directly advocating and educating CMHACY members, collaborative partners, and state and local officials on key and critical issues that merit attention, along with offering possible solutions that other states and organizations have implemented successfully.

Our conference will provide a number of opportunities to learn more about the development of public policy and to offer your opinion regarding what should be included in our state’s policy for children’s mental health. We want to provide you with details of some of these opportunities.


Plenary and workshop evaluation forms:

We will be adding the following questions to the evaluation form for each pre-conference session, plenary, and workshop.

  1. What value or principle in this presentation do you want to see included in California’s public policy related to children’s mental health?
  2. What activity or practice did you see that you would like to see replicated and/or expanded in the state?

Please take the time to complete the evaluation form for each session. We will be using this information to target our advocacy efforts during and after the conference.


Transition Period Policy Cafes:

For those who will not be attending the policy workshops, and those who are but would like additional time to talk about policy, youth and family leaders will co-facilitate our Policy Café’s in Merrill Hall during all transition periods on Thursday. Participants will be able to connect with others, and interactively share ideas, innovation, and next steps for the State of California.

Please stop by Merrill Hall and share your ideas during any of the following times:
10:00 to 10:30
1:00 to 1:30
3:00 to 3:30


Policy Summit Workshop #1: Introduction to Policy and Advocacy

Thursday 10:30 – noon in Merrill Hall

The first session in the policy track is Community Builders: an introduction to policy and advocacy. Youth and family leaders will co-facilitate this interactive session. Participants will learn how to advocate at local and state levels; however, information gained can be applied to all levels of government. This workshop will be appropriate for those who are new to policy and advocacy, as well as those in need of a refresher.


Policy Summit Workshop #2: Advocacy Leader Panel – Lessons Learned

Thursday 1:30 – 3:00 in Merrill Hall

A panel of children’s mental health advocacy experts from across the state will speak about their experiences with advocating for children’s mental health policy in California. Youth, family members, provider representatives, and legal advocates will be present on our panel. The panelists will engage in an interactive discussion with attendees and respond to the following questions:

1) How did you get involved in children’s mental health policy issues?
2) What advice do you have for others interested in advocating for children and families related to mental health?

If time allows, the panelists will discuss current trends and initiatives, and recommendations of where to go from here.


Policy Summit Workshop #3: Policy Cafes and Developing a Call to Action

Thursday 3:30 – 5:00 in Merrill Hall

Youth and family leaders will co-facilitate our Policy Café’s, where participants will be able to connect with others, and interactively share ideas, innovation, and next steps for the State of California. You will have a chance to network, connect with others from across the state, and share your ideas for policy change. We will close the Policy Summit Track with each group sharing their key ideas and recommendations for next steps. Our team will work to highlight the Summit’s results and direct the conversation for Friday’s State Policy Panel. Join us for interactive fun, policy updates, and this unique chance to work with others for statewide alignment of mental health advocacy.


Policy Panels: Friday 8:30 – 11:00 in Merrill Hall

On the Friday of the conference we will be hosting our policy panels. This is a unique opportunity for conference participants to hear directly from both the state policy leaders and those responsible for implementing the policies at the local level. Conference participants will be able to ask questions and offer comments directly to the panelists. We encourage you to attend the Friday sessions. The panelists are excited about the opportunity to interact directly with you and it’s important that they hear the ideas and concerns of youth, family members, providers, advocates and other conference attendees.

Panelists will be responding to the following questions:

1) What is your interest, and/or the interest of your department, in children’s mental health?
2) What do you see as the most pressing policy issues currently impacting youth with mental and behavioral health needs, and their families?
3) What is your vision to ensure that every youth in this state who has a need gets the right service at the right time in the right location and that the length of the service is appropriate to ensure that the youth will not need services again in a year from now?”

The first policy panel will include leaders from state departments responsible for the care of youth and families

The second policy panel will include leaders from associations responsible for implementing the policies related to the care of youth and families at the local level.


Comments and Q&A with Assemblymember Stone: Friday 11:00 – 11:30 in Merrill Hall

Friday’s panels will end with comments from Assemblymember Mark Stone. Assemblymember Stone is the author of Assembly Bill 403 (AB 403), which was discussed in a previous CMHACY newsletter. In short, AB 403 was written to improve outcomes for youth in foster care by increasing community based integrated care and support for youth and their family members and caregivers. Following his comments, Assemblymember Stone will welcome comments and questions from conference participants and offer suggestions on how participants can become more involved in the legislative process.

We have established specifically for gathering policy and advocacy ideas from CMHACY members and collaborative partners. Those interested can send comments and questions any time before, during and after the conference. This address will be checked at least weekly before and after the conference and daily during the week of the conference.

We look forward to your involvement in CMHACY’s expanded policy and advocacy efforts.


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