California’s children’s hospitals have a unique perspective on
the state’s behavioral health system, including its shortcomings.
Across the socioeconomic spectrum, emergency departments
are treating an increasing number of children in crisis.
Sometimes these children have had no previous interaction
with a behavioral health provider, despite their symptomatology.
They may also face significant barriers to obtaining
outpatient or residential treatment even after their emergency
department visit or psychiatric inpatient stay.
What is the California Children’s Services (CCS) Program?
The California Children’s Services (CCS) Program provides diagnosis, treatment, and medical case management to 190,000 children under the age of 21 with special health care needs who are enrolled in Medi-Cal, are low income, or have catastrophic medical care costs. The program serves the state’s most medically fragile pediatric population, including children with conditions like cancer, diabetes, and congenital heart defects.
California’s children’s hospitals receive over one million
visitors a year. Many children come with complex and
life-threatening illnesses like cancer or pediatric heart disease
because they know these facilities are capable of healing the
most severe conditions. Others are flown in by helicopter
after experiencing traumas like gunshots, near-drownings, and
burns. Still others are seen in the specialty outpatient
clinics that treat rare conditions, like sickle cell and cystic
fibrosis, when community doctors lack the expertise to treat
There are multiple payers that fund the services that hospitals
provide to patients. In California, the four main types of
payers are: private (ex. employer-based), Medicare, Medi-Cal
(California’s state Medicaid program), or uninsured (no payer).
Medi-Cal – California’s Medicaid program – provides free or reduced-cost health coverage for low income individuals and families. Medi-Cal increases patients’ access to important healthcare services, such as doctor visits, immunizations, hospital care, and the 10 essential health benefits.
Each year, California’s eight private, non-profit, free-standing
children’s hospitals train approximately 50% of the state’s
pediatric residents (medical school graduates who are training to
be pediatricians) and nearly 10% of all fellows
(pediatricians who have completed their residency and are
training to become specialists). They also provide pediatric
training rotations for hundreds of family medicine, emergency
medicine, and obstetrics and gynecology residents annually.
Our children’s hospitals rely on thoughtful donations to support
our young patients. Charitable contributions help fund vital
medical equipment, ranging from everyday supplies to innovative,
life-saving technology. Furthermore, donations are used to
sustain essential services, such as patient advocacy efforts,
community outreach, and training. These services are imperative
for ensuring the health of not only our patients, but all
children in our state. Additionally, donations are used to fund
When bacteria or viruses invade the body, the immune system releases white blood cells and antibodies to fight the infection and prevent serious illness. Once the infection is over, the body is left with “memory cells,” which remember how to destroy the germ if the body were to become exposed to it again in the future.