CLC’s Mental Health Advocacy Team (MHAT) works to improve the emotional well-being and functioning of CLC clients by providing service and placement recommendations and supporting CLC attorneys in their efforts to advocate for those recommendations. MHAT works collaboratively with the case-carrying attorney and with other CLC specialists to develop a support plan with recommendations, resources, and referrals; in some cases, independent consultants are utilized to assess the youth and provide internal recommendations. MHAT coordinates and facilitates the internal CLC meeting focusing on mental health and psychotropic medication.  MHAT also conducts weekly or monthly meetings for individual firms at the Children’s Law Center of California. MHAT team members attend Child/Family Team Meetings, hospital discharge meetings, and other multidisciplinary meetings to advocate for each foster youth referred to the team.

MHAT also provides Regional Center advocacy by attending Individual Personal Plan Meetings, filing appeals when necessary, and providing information about regional center eligibility, services, and the legal rights of regional center consumers. MHAT coordinates and facilitates the internal CLC Regional Center meeting that discusses system-wide challenges and opportunities that impact clients with developmental disabilities.

MHAT also participates in multiple stakeholder meetings at the county and state level including those dealing with suicide and overdose prevention, the needs of youth with unmet complex needs, and court processes regarding regional center consumers also involved in the child welfare system. MHAT provides short-term consultation regarding cases with mental health or developmental concerns as well as maintaining a referral system for attorneys who request longer-term follow-up.

MHAT provides education and training to CLC staff, both individually and in groups to help in disseminating information about trauma-informed practices, mental health literacy, and knowledge about developmental delays. MHAT also collaborates with CLC’s other specialty units including those focusing on clients with juvenile justice involvement, expectant and parenting youth, and victims of commercial sexual exploitation. MHAT also collaborates with the public defender’s office in mental health court to ensure a smooth flow of information between the dependency system and the mental health court system.


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