Pathways to Well-Being

two little girls from back

Katie A. v. Bonta

Katie A v. Bonta refers to a class action lawsuit filed in federal district court in 2002 concerning the availability of intensive mental health services to children in California who are either in foster care or at imminent risk of coming into care.A settlement agreement approved by the court in 2011 required State child welfare and mental health leaders to work together to establish a sustainable framework for the provision of an array of services that occur in community settings and in a coordinated manner.And while the court’s jurisdiction in the case ended in December 2014, the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) and the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) remain committed to strengthening California’s child welfare and mental health systems with objectives that include:

  • Facilitating the provision of an array of services delivered in a coordinated, comprehensive, community-based fashion that combines service access, planning, delivery, and transition into a coherent and all-inclusive approach, which is referred to as the Core Practice Model (CPM).
  • These more intensive services are referred to as Intensive Care Coordination (ICC), Intensive Home Based Services (IHBS), and Therapeutic Foster Care (TFC).
  • Clarifying and providing guidance on state and federal laws and policies as needed so that counties and providers can understand and consistently apply them.

If you have any comments or questions, please send them via e-mail to:

Pathways to Well-Being – Core Practice Model Guide

Pathways to Mental Health Services - Core Practice Model Guide.

The guide identifies specific required components that support the standards and expectations for practice behaviors by child welfare and mental health staff. It is intended to facilitate a common strategic and practical framework that integrates the planning, delivery, coordination, and management of services among all those involved in working with children involved in multiple service systems.

Medi-Cal Manual, Third Edition (January 2018)

The Medi-Cal Manual for Intensive Care Coordination (ICC), Intensive Home-Based Services (IHBS), and Therapeutic Foster Care (TFC) for Medi-Cal Beneficiaries (Third Edition) provides Mental Health Plans, Medi-Cal providers, children and youth, families, county representatives, and other stakeholders with information regarding ICC, IHBS, and specialty mental health services activities provided through TFC.   

Shared Management

CDSS and DHCS are working together as partners to ensure that the mental health needs of children involved with the child welfare system are met in a timely and effective manner.  The two departments are leading efforts to develop services such as Therapeutic Foster Care and to implement initiatives such as the Continuum of Care Reform, ensuring that the goals of child welfare and mental health align with what is best for children and families.  This shared approach to working with children and families is also reflected in the materials provided below:

Pathways to Mental Health Community Team Announcement  (March 25, 2015)
A Community Team has been established to provide input and guidance regarding policies and practices related to implementation of the Core Practice Model, service delivery, accountability, data collection, and practices related to the coordination of care between child welfare and mental health.

Shared Management Announcement  (February 2015)  
The joint response of CDSS and DHCS to recommendations made by the Katie A Joint Management Task Force and Core Practice Model Fiscal Task Force.  

Child Welfare/Mental Health Data (September 25, 2015)
In September 2015, CDSS and DHCS presented information to the Community Team regarding children involved with the child welfare system who also received mental health services. 

Technical Assistance for Counties and Service Providers
The links below open resources on the DHCS web site.

FAQs - February 26, 2015

FAQs - August 14, 2014

FAQs - August 13, 2013

Service Comparison Tables for ICC and IHBS

Technical Questions and Answers Log

Implementation Resources

County Child Welfare/Mental Health Implementation Toolkit

Index of Child and Adolescent Trauma Screening Tools

Contact Us

For questions related to mental health services for children in foster care, please contact:

Children and Family Services Division
Integrated Services Unit
Phone: 916-651-6600

Integrated Practice Technical Assistance Calls 
To meet ongoing needs for support, CDSS and DHCS facilitate a conference call each month to share information and answer questions about programs and services for children in foster care who need mental health services.  The calls are open to counties, service providers, families, and other stakeholders.  To receive announcements, call agendas, and discussion materials, please send an e-mail to to have your e-mail address added to our distribution list.     Information needed to join the call is shown below:

When:                First Wednesday of each month
Time:                 10am - 11:30am
Telephone#:       (866) 918-0963
Passcode#:       3493547

Quick Links

Integrated Practice Bulletins

A monthly summary of the Child Welfare and Mental Health Integrated Practice Technical Assistance Calls, including discussion points, Q&A, and resources to support counties and their partners.

January 2016
February 2016
March 2016
April 2016
May 2016
June 2016
July 2016
August 2016

Pathways to Well-Being Letters and Notices

County Implementation Progress Reports

(October 2013 - April 2015)

Mental Health Services Utilization Reports
CDSS and DHCS efforts to improve mental health service delivery to children and youth in the child welfare system include producing reports on a quarterly basis regarding the utilization of Specialty Mental Health Services.  The reports use matched data from the CDSS Child Welfare Services/Case Management System (CWS/CMS) and the DHCS Short-Doyle Medi-Cal (SDMC) claiming system.

Mental Health Services Utilization Report - July 1, 2014 - June 30, 2015

Mental Health Services Utilization Report - Jan 1 - Dec 31, 2015

Mental Health Services Utilization Report - Oct 1, 2015 - Sep 30, 2016

Mental Health Services Utilization Report - Jan 1 - Dec 31, 2016

Mental Health Services Utilization Report - Apr 1, 2016 - Mar 31, 2017

 Mental Health Services Utilization Report - Oct 1, 2016 - Sept 30, 2017