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February 1, 2024

Rep. Young Bill to Increase Behavioral Health Care Access for Foster Youth Passes Committee

DENVER, CO - The House Health and Human Services Committee today passed bipartisan legislation to support children and youth in the foster care system that have complex behavioral health care needs. The bill passed by a vote of 12-1.

“Children and youth with complex behavioral health needs deserve access to quality health care, but our current shortage of treatment beds has placed youth in hospitals and hotels where they aren’t receiving appropriate treatment,” said Rep. Mary Young, D-Greeley. “We’re creating a system of care that boosts the availability of residential child care settings who can successfully treat these youth and increases payments to fund more residential treatment centers and beds. By strengthening Colorado’s resources, we can ensure our youth have access to the quality behavioral health care they need, when they need it.”

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 would require state agencies to create a care plan that includes the implementation of a standardized assessment tool, intensive-care coordination, expanded supportive services and expanded access to treatment in foster care.

The bill 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 bill 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 bill originated from the Child Welfare System Interim Study Committee and was unanimously approved by the committee in October 2023.

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