Youth involved in the juvenile justice system have enormous health care needs.  As a group, they suffer disproportionately from acute and chronic health problems.  Many have not had adequate access to health care before coming into contact with the system, and many suffer from conditions that develop or worsen while they are in state custody — sometimes resulting in protracted or unnecessary incarceration.  YLC works to improve access to health care (including mental health care) for youth in the juvenile justice system.


Recent Action

  • Researching the effect on youth in the juvenile justice system of the Medicaid inmate payment exclusion, which prohibits federal Medicaid funding for services provided to an inmate of a public institution. YLC found significant barriers to health care coverage for youth in the juvenile justice system, and in a seminal report, The “Inmate Exception”, identified problems in the way California implements federal law.
  • Conducting a project, supported by The California Endowment, designed to improve Medi-Cal coverage for youth in the juvenile justice system, focusing particularly on coverage for youth who move in and out of secure facilities. The  project report, Improving Access to Medi-Cal for Youth in the Juvenile Justice System,  includes specific findings and recommendations for improving access to health care coverage.
  • Opposing Medicaid rules that would have restricted case management and rehabilitative services for children in the juvenile justice and foster care systems.
  • Supporting federal legislation to clarify federal Medicaid policy on services for children in out of home placement.
  • Reporting on the relationship between health care access and placement delay, particularly for youth with mental health needs.
  • Sponsoring SB 1147 (Calderon) that requires the California Department of Health Care Services to suspend rather than terminate Medi-Cal eligibility for youth entering juvenile correctional facilities.

Recent Litigation

  • Marquez v California Department of Health, challenges California Medi-Cal policies that deny necessary medical care to children who have other health care coverage (OHC) when the other coverage does not provide the health care services the child needs.