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Public Policy and Administration


Mark Gordon


California Senate Bill 1041 recognized mental health as a contributing barrier for individuals struggling to achieve independence from aid through the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program to meet the needs of the state's low-income families while reducing barriers to self-sufficiency. As mental health illnesses continue to increase, the engagement and utilization of services have not increased. The purpose of this study was to explore county policy infrastructure addresses making mental health services known, accessible, and increase participation to decrease barriers in utilization of available resources. The research questions were used to examine the effectiveness of processes of explaining, screening, engaging, and referrals for supportive mental health services to address CalWORK participant's needs outlined within policy practices. The theoretical foundation for this study was Ostrom's institutional analysis and development (IAD) theory. This study was a qualitative phenomenological study design that included the use of semi-structured interviews with participants who were employed at various county, contracted orientation, and mental health agencies working with CalWORKs clients. Barriers were identified related to policy delivery with possible strategies to combat stigma to increase awareness. The four primary themes identified in the study are: services, breadth of barriers, points of process, and policy practice exchange. Findings may be used by government agencies to increase of access to mental services to support early intervention with reduction of higher care treatment needs, which may decrease the burden on local, state, and federal funding and lead to positive social change.