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Senate Bill 24-059 Children’s Behavioral Health Statewide System of Care


The Child and Family Advocacy Coordinating Attorney at The Harris Law Firm, Tiffany Pelham Webb, testified at the State Capitol on February 22, 2024 in support of Senate Bill 24-059 Children’s Behavioral Health Statewide System of Care. This bill seeks to establish a children’s behavioral health statewide system of care:

“The bill requires the behavioral health administration (BHA), in partnership with the office of children, youth, and families in the department of human services; the department of health care policy and financing; the division of insurance in the department of regulatory agencies; and the department of public health and environment, to develop, establish, and maintain a comprehensive children's behavioral health statewide system of care (system of care). The system of care will serve as the single point of access to address the behavioral health needs of children and youth in Colorado, regardless of payer, insurance, and income.

The system of care shall serve children and youth up to twenty-one years of age who have mental health disorders, substance use disorders, co-occurring behavioral health disorders, or intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The system of care must include, at a minimum, a statewide behavioral health standardized screening and assessment, trauma-informed mobile crisis response and stabilization services for children and youth, tiered care coordination for moderate and intensive levels of need, parent and youth peer support, intensive in-home and community-based services, and respite services.”

This bill, with bipartisan Senate sponsorship, was first introduced in the Senate on January 17, 2024 and heard in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on February 22, 2024. Senator Barbara Kirkmeyer (Republican, District 23, Larimer and Weld Counties) and Senator Dafna Michaelson Jenet (Democrat, District 21, Adams and Arapahoe Counties) co-sponsored this bill. They introduced this bill by discussing how Colorado has a lack of continuum of services for children’s behavioral health needs, and a lack of standardized screening and assessment. Senator Michaelson Jenet contended that New Jersey’s single-point entry system of care, on which Colorado has been trained, is the “north star” in terms of building a system of care in Colorado. Roughly 30 witnesses testified, including Ms. Pelham Webb.

Ms. Pelham Webb worked as a Law Guardian in New Jersey for eight years representing children in abuse and neglect and guardianship cases prior to working as a Guardian ad Litem (or GAL) in Colorado for five years representing children in delinquency, crossover dependency and neglect, and some paternity cases. Ms. Pelham Webb was able to contrast her experience in New Jersey where children in her cases had equal needs-based access to a behavioral health services system of care through a single entry point, to her experience in Colorado where children’s access to behavioral health services was an issue in nearly every one of her cases. Ms. Pelham Webb testified in strong support of this bill having seen the stark differences for children when a comprehensive behavioral health statewide system exists and when it does not. The bill passed unanimously through the bipartisan Senate Health and Human Services Committee on February 22, 2024. This important bill for the children of Colorado will next go to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

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