Foster Youth Health

CalFresh For Foster Youth

During the difficult transition from dependency to independent living many Foster Youth exit their foster home or facility with little or no income or assets and without having accessed CalFresh benefits to which they may be entitled. The CalFresh Program, formerly known as Food Stamps and federally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), can add to your food budget to put healthy and nutritious food on the table. The program issues monthly electronic benefits that can be used to buy most foods at many markets and food stores. Foster Youth who are exiting Foster Care have the opportunity to apply for and participate in CalFresh. Apply Online at “CalFresh” Also see All County Letter 09-25 and All County Information Notice I-22-12.

Medi-Cal coverage until 26 years for foster youth

Coverage till 26

Through the Extended Medi-Cal Program for Emancipated Foster Youth and the Affordable Care Act, young people, whether from California or another state, whose dependency terminated at 18, or later can continue to receive Medi-Cal until their 26th birthday. If you have emancipated from foster care at 18, and are under 26-years old and have not signed up for the Extended Medi-Cal Program for Emancipated Foster Youth or your Medi-Cal eligibility ended on your 21st birthday, go to your local Medi-Cal office and sign up for the program. Print out the MC250a form and bring it with you to your appointment.

Medi-Cal Hot-Line

If you already have Medi-Cal and have questions about bills for medical care or pharmacy costs, you can contact the Medi-Cal Hotline at 916-636-1980. (You must have a current Medi-Cal card when you call this number.)

Office of the Ombudsman, Medi-Cal Managed Care

Staff at this office can help resolve problems with Medi-Cal coverage. They can be reached at 1-800-430-4263 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday or at the Medi-Cal Ombudsperson website under “Resource & Information”. This same site also has a link to Foster Care/Managed Care Resource Guide with important information on finding health care and related resources for foster children, especially those children who have been placed outside their county of responsibility.


This website covers many topics including diseases and conditions, staying safe, drugs and alcohol and many others.

Public Health Nurses

The Health Care Program for Children in Foster Care was created to improve healthcare for foster children and youth. In this program, county public health nurses work with children’s social workers to coordinate services needed by foster youth to resolve physical, mental, dental and developmental problems. For more information, go to the Public Health Nurse website.

Mental Health Services

Foster Youth Mental Health Bill of Rights

“The Quality Improvement Project: Improving Psychotropic Medication Use in Children and Youth in Foster Care (QIP)” is a collaborative effort between the California Department of Social Services (CDSS), Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), county partners and key stakeholders, including former foster youth. The mission of the QIP is to improve the health of children and youth in foster care, with a specific focus on improving the oversight and monitoring of psychotropic medication use. The QIP is comprised of three workgroups: Clinical, Data and Technology, and Family, Youth and Education.

The documents, Foster Youth Mental Health Bill of Rights and Questions to Ask, were prepared by Young Minds Advocacy Project staff attorneys, in collaboration with California Youth Connection, the National Center for Youth Law, on behalf of the QIP Youth, Family and Education workgroup, with input from mental health stakeholders.

Questions to Ask about Medications

If you are under 21 years of age and experiencing serious or severe emotional problems, there are mental health services available. They are called Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) services and include Therapeutic Behavioral Services for certain stressful transitions. The services need to part of your overall plan of care.

Foster Youth Mental Health Bill of Rights/Questions to Ask about Medications

Ombudsperson for Medi-Cal Mental Health Services

The office of the Ombudsman for Medi-Cal Mental Health Services was created to help caregivers, youth and others find their way through the mental health system. Staff in this office can provide information, explain rights and choices, help solve problems, assist in communication, request information, and make referrals to others. This office can be reached during weekdays at 1-800-896-4042 or for TTY at 1-800-896-2512. You can also send an email to: