Summary of 2020 legislation tracked by the California Alliance

Bills Signed:

AB 890 (Wood – D) – Nurse Practitioners

This bill will allow nurse practitioners full practice authority through a transition-to-practice process, joining more than two dozen other states, Washington, DC, and the Veterans Administration that provide pathways to allow nurse practitioners to practice independently.

For the past decade, there have been multiple attempts in the Legislature to make this change.  During this time, it has become obvious that CA faces a severe behavioral health workforce shortage, and action was urgently needed.  For example, in February 2019, the California Future Health Workforce Commission released its final report with a plan to address the state’s shortages of primary care and behavioral health providers. One of the Commission’s top 10 recommendations was to maximize the role of nurse practitioners and to expand their practice authority. More than 80 organizations supported AB 890, including the Alliance, and we were active in the coalition to bring about passage.

AB 1979 (Friedman - D) – Foster Youth – Housing

This bill authorizes counties to fund transitional housing placements for a 14-day period should a youth leave without permission but notify the provider of their intent to return to the program.  It also requires the Department of Social Services to develop guidance to counties that this 14-day “bed hold” is a best practice.

AB 2112 (Ramos – D) – Office of Suicide Prevention

This is an Alliance sponsored bill, and it will create a Statewide Office of Suicide Prevention in the State Department of Public Health.  The new Office would be charged with the following functions:

  • Provide strategic guidance to statewide and regional partners regarding best prevention practices;
  • Focus resources on the highest risk groups such as youth, Native American youth, older adults, veterans and LGBTQ persons;
  • Conduct state evaluations of regional and state suicide prevention policies;
  • Review data to identify opportunities to reduce suicide, including documenting aborted suicide attempts and crisis service interventions;
  • Marshall the insights and energy of medical professionals, scientists, public health experts and others to address the crisis; and
  • Report annually on progress and work of the Office of Suicide Prevention.

The passage of AB 2112 is a critical step towards developing a statewide approach to suicide prevention, especially for those most vulnerable: youth, and particularly Native American youth and youth from underserved and under-resourced communities, older adults and LGBTQ+ individuals.  Youth are particularly vulnerable. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people ages 15 to 35, according to a 2017 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Also, CDC released 1991-2017 High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data that reported one in six high school students stated they seriously considered ending their lives and more than one in 12 reported attempted suicides.

The signing message for AB 2112 can be found here.

AB 2265 (Quirk-Silva – D) – MHSA: Substance Use Services

This bill will 1) clarify how Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) funds may be used for Substance Use Disorder (SUD) treatment for individuals with co-occurring mental health and SUD and (2) create a reporting requirement for both the counties and DHCS to track the number of people assessed for co-occurring mental health and SUD, and the number of people assessed for co-occurring SUD who were later determined to have only an SUD without another co-occurring mental health condition.

Individuals with co-occurring mental illness and substance use conditions are among California’s most underserved. Numerous studies demonstrate that integrated care is necessary for successful treatment, and there must be “no wrong door” to access services and support.  The Alliance supported this bill because it preserves the MHSA’s focus on meeting the state’s large unmet mental health needs with a more comprehensive approach.

AB 2944 (Stone - D) - Foster Care

This is an urgency bill, meaning that it became effective upon signature of the Governor rather than becoming effective on January 1, 2021. 

Under current law, a provisionally licensed STRTP must obtain the permanent STRTP license within 12 months following issuance of the provisional license.  Current law grants the Department of Social Services authority to extend the 12 month deadline for an additional six months.  This bill does the following:

  • Grants DSS the authority to extend the 12 month timeline by an additional 12 months (for a total of 24 months from issuance of the provisional license).  The bill also grants DSS the authority to require evidence that the provider is making progress in fulfilling the three mental health components that will qualify it for issuance of the permanent STRTP license;
  • Provides that a group home license will not be forfeited by operation of law upon issuance of the permanent STRTP license, provided certain conditions are met.  It is expected that the mechanism for implementing this process will be developed through a stakeholder review with DSS;
  • Eliminates the TB test for adoptive parents of foster youth;
  • Requires FFAs to give information to a subsequent FFA conducting a reference check within 20 business days (existing law already requires that the FFA forwards a copy of the Written Report to the subsequent FFA within 20 days);
  • Requires trauma informed care and trauma informed practices to be implemented by all licensed providers serving children;
  • Adds a new type of allowable AFDC-FC placement for a foster youth to include a residential family-based treatment facility for substance abuse when the foster child is placed with a parent in treatment. This will start on April 1, 2021 and is in accordance with the federal law Families First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA); and
  • Grants DSS, at the request of a county, to approve new alternative funding models with individualized rates for innovative programs or models of care and services that provide children with service alternatives to residential care, enhance the ability of children to remain in the least restrictive, most family-like setting possible, and promote services that address the needs and strengths of individual children and their families (i.e. would include a STRTP home-based model). 

Specifically, the bill:

  • Allows counties to pull down new matching federal funds for innovative individualized rates and models of care;
  • Requires counties to pay the nonfederal share of any additional cost for providing these innovative programs of models of care;
  • Requires providers to include the innovative models of care and services in their program statement;
  • Requires counties to monitor the performance and outcomes of the provider to ensure that the purposes of the innovative program will be achieved.

SB 803 (Beall) – Peer Certification

This bill establishes a peer support specialist certification program for behavioral health services and adds peer support services as a Medi-Cal covered benefit for counties that choose to provide this important service.  Peer support is an evidence-based, cost-effective model of care proven to reduce costly hospitalizations and homelessness, increase participation in treatment, and improve service experience. Peer support specialists are self-identified consumers who use their lived experience along with skills learned in formal training to assist others in their recovery from mental illness.

However, in California there is no statewide scope of practice, standardized curriculum, training standards, supervision standards, or certification protocol for peer support services. SB 803 will define the service of peer support, provide a standardized scope of practice, ethics, and competencies. This bill will also ensure practitioners receive standardized training and demonstrate competency in providing peer support services.  The Alliance was proud to join a coalition of behavioral health advocates in supporting SB 803.

SB 823 (Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review) – Office of Youth and Community Restoration

This bill realigns responsibility for youth in custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) to the counties and will close DJJ completely in 2023 or 2024.  The bill does the following:

  • Creates an Office of Youth and Community Restoration in Health and Human Services;
  • Closes DJJ to new intake effective July 1, 2021 (but will continue for youth having transfer hearings until final closure of DJJ which is expected in 2023 or 2024 and youth in DJJ now will serve out their terms);
  • Funds counties with $225,000 per realigned youth per year for local facilities, programs, supervision and services for DJJ eligible youth;
  • Requires the Department of Justice to produce a data plan and requires counties receiving realignment funds to include data and outcomes measures; and
  • Raises the age at which youth can be confined locally (to 25) and by intent language to adopt a new “secure track” of county facilities that would prevent transfers to adult court after DJJ closes.

SB 855 (Wiener – D) – Health coverage

This bill will require health insurers to cover services for any mental health or substance use disorder deemed necessary by a doctor.  It requires commercial health insurers to pay for medically necessary treatment of any behavioral health or substance use disorder listed in the DSM-5, the American Psychiatric Association manual that defines mental health conditions. The Alliance was in support.

SB 860 (Beall - D) – Foster Youth and the FASFA

SB 860 clarifies the role of Foster Youth Services Coordinating Programs (in each County Office of Education) to include coordination of efforts to support FAFSA completion among foster youth who are high school seniors. It also adds FAFSA completion rates to their bi-annual reporting requirement.

Bills Vetoed:

SB 912 (Beall - D) – Fostering Connections to Success Act

Please see the Governor’s veto message: 

To the Members of the California State Senate:

I am returning Senate Bill 912 without my signature. During the current state of emergency related to the pandemic, the State of California has addressed the needs of many of our vulnerable populations through executive orders that immediately extended benefits and waived specified requirements to remove obstacles to provide ongoing aid. Foremost among these actions was including over $40 million in the 2020 Budget Act to allow nonminor dependents (NMDs) who would have otherwise aged out of extended foster care access to supports and services until June 30, 2021. This bill, however, is seeking to extend court jurisdiction for all NMDs who aged out of extended foster care once the state of emergency was declared on March 4, 2020, until June 30, 2021. Further, this bill also would, for any statewide or county-by-county state of emergency declared by the Governor on or after January 1, 2021, require NMDs who turn 21 years of age while the state of emergency is in effect to continue to receive foster care support for six months from the date of the declaration. Because disasters and pandemics vary and are difficult to predict, this bill would obligate the State to a specific approach that may not always be the most prudent or effective. For these reasons, I am unable to sign this bill.


Governor Gavin Newsom

 Please note that the eligibility extension that was enacted into law through signature on the 2020 State Budget is operative.  Youth who turned, or will turn 21 on or after April 14, 2020 through June 30, 2021 may remain as non minor dependents in the foster care system.


Alliance Sponsored and Co-Sponsored Legislation - Prior Sessions


SB 612

AB 501


AB 741

AB 1299


AB 12


SB 1380


Legislative Information

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California Budget & Policy Center

Dollars and Democracy: Understanding How the State Budget Process Relates to the Policy Bill Process

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