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Improving Outcomes for Children & Youth with Complex Needs

Written by PCMH’s policy director Alli Daley.

Across Colorado, many children and youth with mental health conditions end up boarding in emergency departments, county human services offices and hotels because there are limited treatment settings to meet their needs. Kids also end up stuck in hospitals for extended periods due to limited discharge options in community settings. 

To address this, a coalition of hospitals, counties, state agencies and advocates have partnered together to bring forward House Bill 23-1269 (HB1269). 

HB1269: Extended Stay And Boarding Patients

This important bill aims to address the challenges of children and youth who end up boarding or with extended inpatient stays. The legislation would:

  • Require the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing to analyze whether setting minimum rate requirements for certain services, including residential treatment, family functional therapy, multisystemic therapy and psychotherapy for children and youth, will expand access to these needed services in all regions across the state. 
  • Require system-wide data collection of the number of children and youth who meet criteria for extended stays and boarding to better inform future solutions. This would bring much needed transparency to Colorado’s youth mental health system.
  • Provide funding to maintain existing capacity for and incentivize additional residential treatment providers to serve children and youth with complex needs.

HB1269 would help support existing services for children and youth with complex mental health needs while setting up processes to create long-term, sustainable supports across the care continuum. This ensures that all Colorado kids have equitable access to treatment in the right place, at the right time. We are continuing to advocate for this bill as it awaits its first hearing in the Senate after passing in the House. 

If you would like to get involved in these advocacy efforts or have any questions, please email me:  

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