This brief was co-developed by the California Children’s Trust and the First 5 Center for Children’s Policy. Whole-Family Wellness for Early Childhood: A New Model for Medi-Cal Delivery and Financing outlines a new approach for California to conceptualize, deliver, and fund a system of care for Medi-Cal eligible infants and toddlers that is grounded in family wellness.
Currently in California, the Medi-Cal system focuses on delivering individual services for children, outside the context of their families and communities. For example, healthcare providers and systems must determine a young child’s “psychopathology” before they offer mental health care or are reimbursed for it. Yet many clinicians do not receive training in early childhood mental health, and the diagnostic criteria are based on adult symptoms, calling accurate diagnosis into question.
The proposed new model of care, the Whole-Family Wellness Hub-and-Spoke Model, recognizes the importance of early prevention, identification, and support to mitigate adversity, and to bolster protective factors and family resilience.This family-centered model of care and parenting support is preventive, need-based, and therapeutic; it focuses on supporting children and families in community settings that build social connections and directly address the social determinants of health.