Child Mental Health Treatment Act Expanded

This legislative session, the General Assembly reauthorized the Child Mental Health Treatment Act (House Bill 18-1094), which extends the Office of Behavioral Health-managed program indefinitely, renames it the Children and Youth Mental Health Treatment Act (CYMHTA) and makes a number of policy changes. 

Through the legislation, which was signed by the Governor on May 30, CYMHTA funding will increase by about $1.3 million, raising the total annual program service allocation up to $3 million in fiscal year 2018-2019 and 2019-2020. The act helps pay for community, residential and transitional treatment services for children who cannot afford the care. To be eligible, a child must have a mental illness, be under the age of 18, and be at risk of out-of-home placement or at risk of further involvement with a county department of human/social services.

Major policy changes in the bill include:

  • Expanding access to the program by updating the definition of mental health agency to include community mental health centers and additional providers who can determine eligibility and provide care coordination. The bill supports patient-centered care by requiring mental health agencies to notify families about available mental health treatment providers and information about how to get assistance from family advocates and family systems navigators.
  • Strengthening the transparency and accountability of the program, including publicly releasing annual data about the number and reasons for denials.
  • Addressing the funding shortfall to ensure that children who meet the eligibility criteria can obtain appropriate services.

A webinar about the changes will be offered from 12 to 1:30 p.m. on June 26. Register here.

House Bill 18-1094 is the culmination of the work from many dedicated agencies and individuals, including Children’s Hospital Colorado and Mental Health Colorado. Thanks to these efforts, the Office of Behavioral Health will continue to manage this program, which in the past 18 years has helped hundreds of families in Colorado obtain critical mental health treatment for their children and avoid unwarranted child welfare involvement