Since July 1, 2016, Contra Costa County lost five psychiatrists who serve the county’s at-risk youth -- minors in foster care and juvenile hall and victims of child sexual exploitation and domestic violence -- and they have yet to replace them.
At a Family and Human Services Committee hearing on Monday, county officials responded to a civil grand jury report claiming that there is on average a 1-to-310 ratio of psychiatrists to cases of children with moderate to severe mental health issues. Sometimes it’s even worse.
That was an alarming ratio for most in the room, but committee members said they couldn’t be sure the statistic was accurate because they don't know where the grand jury got its data. So Cynthia Belon, director of Contra Costa’s Behavioral Health Services, was asked to dig deeper.
“We will then be able to see that all these tables are accurate or not, which we believe they’re not, but we need to actually do further analysis,” Belon said.
The committee requested that Belon put together a report for its Aug. 15 meeting. It is expected to include the number of currently open cases and the number of psychiatrists on staff and how they are distributed. The committee also requested demographic breakdowns to see if the deficit is disproportionately affecting black and Latino children.