California’s Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) created Full Service Partnership programs (FSPs) targeting socially and economically vulnerable children with mental illness who are underserved by counties’ public mental health treatment system. To determine whether FSPs reach a distinctive group of children, this study compares indicators of FSP-targeted underservice for FSP entrants (n = 15,598) versus everyone treated in the counties’ public mental health systems (n = 282,178) and for FSP entrants versus entrants in the most intensive Medicaid delivered program in California, Therapeutic Behavioral Services (TBS, n = 11,993). Results identify that, despite first encountering mental health services systems at earlier ages, FSP clients had fewer months of treatment and were less likely to have been treated in the prior 6 months, except for crisis care, as compared to all other children served, after considering clinical severity and indicators of service need. FSP entrants also had more substance abuse and trauma-related problems. Although less seriously ill than TBS served children, FSP served children were significantly underserved. The results indicate that, amid overlapping policies and programs, carving out and reaching a distinctly underserved population can be achieved in practice, and that specialized programs, such as the FSP program, which target underserved children, have the potential to augment a system’s ability to reach the underserved. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)

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