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Children and youth with Special Health Care needs (CYSHCN)

Innovation Grants 

The Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Division (MCAH) of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is funding a small number of innovative projects that focus on public health strategies to improve support for children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN) and their families across the state. All local MCAH programs in the state were eligible to apply. Projects were chosen via a competitive application process. Applicants were selected in October 2021 and grant funding will be allocated annually beginning in 2022 through 2025.

The Innovation Grants aim to establish best practices and successful approaches that can be adapted by other local MCAH programs around the state and nationally. Grantees have flexibility to create and implement programs or initiatives that respond to local needs.

The local health departments selected to receive funding are Pasadena, Riverside, San Francisco, San Joaquin and Sutter. 

Program Summary

TAKING A PUBLIC HEALTH APPROACH: The aim of the CYSHCN Innovation Grants is to encourage local health jurisdictions to implement public health strategies that focus on upstream measures to support children and youth with special health care needs and their families across the state of California. Historically, efforts around supporting CYSHCN often center on interventions within the health care system. The Innovation Grants aim to support interventions that break this mold, address the broader needs of the child and their family, create more systems level change and focus on a strengths-based, resilience-building approach.

OUR GOAL: CDPH/MCAH has two CYSHCN priority needs in the Title V State Action Plan. These Priority Needs and the associated strategies provide a roadmap for proposed projects and initiatives. The two Priority Needs are: 1) making systems of care easier to navigate and 2) increasing engagement and resilience among CYSHCN and their families.

The overall goal for the projects is to apply a public health lens and approach to improving systems that serve CYSHCN and their families. This means taking a comprehensive approach that includes systems and services at the individual, family, community, and society levels. Each local program will also have their own unique goals.

Services provided through the CYSHCN Innovation Grants must align with one or more of the following Title V State Action Plan strategies:

  • Build local capacity to improve and expand public health systems and services for CYSHCN.
  • Build data capacity to understand needs and health disparities in the CYSHCN population.
  • Identify and incorporate best practices to ensure that CYSHCN and their families receive support for a successful transition to adult health care.
  • Train and engage CYSHCN and families to improve CYSHCN-serving systems through input and involvement in state and local MCAH program design, implementation, and evaluation.
  • Increase resilience among CYSHCN and their families.

WE SERVE: Grantees will begin implementation of their Innovation Grant proposals in 2022. All projects will serve children and/or youth with a chronic physical, development, behavioral or emotional condition who require specialized services and support as a result of their condition, and their families. Data will be available about who receives program services once programs are underway. In collaboration with CDPH/MCAH, grantees will monitor and evaluate their programs, including developing goals and tracking outcomes.

FUNDING: The funding source for these Innovation Grants is the Title V Maternal and Child Health Block Grant.

Snapshot of Grantee Proposals

These are initial summaries of activities proposed by successful applicants. Program implementation is estimated to begin at some point in 2022 depending on when funding is allocated:

Site Map
  • City of Pasadena: Hire a Peer Family Navigator to provide system navigation support and linkages to services, mentoring, and other peer-to-peer support for families of CYSHCN; improve transition of youth into the adult health care system; and conduct a comprehensive environmental scan to understand needs, strengths, barriers, and opportunities for CYSHCN and their families.
  •  Riverside County:  Strengthen the partnership between CDPH/MCAH and the California Children's Services (CCS) program while establishing a pipeline for cross-referrals and increasing utilization of MCAH home visitation programs; build resilience among clients and their families by creating a program to identify needs, facilitate peer relationships, and build connections between families and community resources
  • San Francisco County: Develop a formal, community-based, family centered interagency collaborative to improve systems that serve CYSHCN and their families with a focus on collaborative impact and giving power to the community voice, simplifying processes across agencies, improving the transition to adult health care, and training family members to advocate for systems-level improvement.
  • San Joaquin County: Improve and expand MCAH home visiting services for CYSHCN with focus on empowering families to successfully navigate systems of care, and create a virtual peer support group for families and working with community partners on collective impact approaches to address the social determinants of health.
  • Sutter County: Expand and enhance identification and intervention services to young children experiencing developmental and mental health challenges, work with providers and community partners to strengthen Help Me Grow outreach, provide case management for families with unmet needs, and expand availability of mental health interventions for families of CYSHCN in home visiting programs. 

Guiding Principles

  • Recognize the strengths, autonomy and contributions of CYSHCN and their families.
  • Authentically and meaningfully engage families to ensure a family-centered approach.
  • Acknowledge the importance of building resilience through community involvement, supportive networks and trusted relationships.
  • Incorporate an awareness of the prevalence of trauma, its impact on individual experiences and perceptions and how to respond with compassion and understanding.

Program Resources

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