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June 7, 2024

ICYMI: Bipartisan Rep. Young Bill to Increase Behavioral Health Care Access for Foster Youth Becomes Law

DENVER, CO – Governor Jared Polis yesterday signed legislation into law administratively to support children and youth in the foster care system who have complex behavioral health care needs.

“The need for more residential treatment centers and beds is clear, especially for our foster children and youth with complex behavioral health care needs,” said Rep. Mary Young, D-Greeley. “Our bipartisan legislation is a product of the child welfare interim committee and works to strengthen the system of care specifically by increasing the availability of residential care and investing in more treatment beds. We’re also taking steps to reduce bed reliance by increasing treatment options for foster care youth and assuring staff have the training they need. This law works to boost Colorado’s behavioral health care resources and streamline care to our foster children and youth who need it the most.”

HB24-1038, also sponsored by Representative Brandi Bradley, R-Roxborough, outlines a new system of care designed for youth and children with complex behavioral health needs who are in foster care, or at risk of out-of-home placement. Specifically, it requires state agencies to create a care plan that includes the implementation of a standardized assessment tool, intensive-care coordination, increased supportive services and expanded access to treatment in foster care.

The law aims to make it easier for youth with complex behavioral health needs to receive the care they need, when they need it. In order to meet the needs of foster youth, the law creates a training academy to develop high-quality residential child care providers who will ensure effective, safe, and responsible care. The legislation requires the state to monitor quality standards for residential child care providers at all levels of care. This law originated from the Child Welfare System Interim Study Committee, chaired by Rep. Young, and was unanimously approved by the committee in October 2023.

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