Little Hoover Commission Issues Report on COVID-19 and Child Mental Health Impacts

The Milton Marks “Little Hoover” Commission on California State Government Organization and Economy, an independent state oversight agency, recently issued a report entitled, “COVID-19 and Children’s Mental Health: Addressing the Impact.” The report discusses the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on child and adolescent mental health, as well as highlights challenges in student mental health and school-based service delivery.

To address the COVID-19 pandemic’s impacts on child and adolescent mental health, the Little Hoover Commission calls for a larger, more diverse mental health workforce, a “genuine continuum of care for children,” prevention and early intervention services, and school-based activities to transform schools as “hubs of mental well-being.”

The Little Hoover Commission features the California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal (CalAIM) Initiative, as well as the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative, as significant reforms that have potential to address child mental health needs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the Little Hoover Commission sets forth the following recommendations:

  • The State of California should identify a central point of leadership for children’s mental health; the Governor and Legislature should also initiate a review process to examine the potential creation of a Department of Behavioral and Mental Health to exercise statewide leadership over mental health care and services.
  • The California Health and Human Services (CHHS) Secretary, in consultation with stakeholders, should set statewide goals for child mental health based on key metrics related to overall mental well-being, access to care, and quality of services.
  • The Governor and Legislature should reserve a portion of Behavioral Health Initiative funding to competitively award counties and health plans for effectively and efficiently implementing successful reforms and programs.
  • The Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) should work with stakeholders to identify ways to increase the support and technical assistance to counties, health plans, and other providers.
  • The Governor and Legislature should leverage the Behavioral Health Initiative to encourage local educational agencies and partners to develop comprehensive approaches to student mental wellness.
  • The Governor should establish a clear timeline for the development, testing, and piloting of the behavioral health services virtual platform.

The full Little Hoover Commission is available here.