Since announcing our intent to merge with Bienvenidos, many longtime supporters of the organization have reached out to better understand the rationale for this significant and historic milestone. Four recent developments prompted this opportunity: the Affordable Care Act, the integration of Los Angeles County’s health and behavioral health services, the Continuum of Care Reform legislation (AB 403), and the creation of the Nonprofit Sustainability Initiative.
The integration of behavioral or mental health services with primary medical care is a principal tenant of reforms initiated by the Affordable Care Act. At both the state and county levels, primary and mental health services have been integrated into one seamless system of care. The need for such a consistent and synchronized system of care was acknowledged in the Los Angeles County Blue Ribbon Commission that called for the creation of the Office of Child Protection and unprecedented collaboration among all public services to effectively keep children safe. Having a seamless and integrated system of care, coordinating both the primary health care of a child with behavioral healthcare services, is critical to assure overall health and well-being. In addition, this new approach influences how agencies like ours need to sustain our infrastructure, explore ways to be more efficient, and combine resources to increase the impact.
The reform of the foster care system envisioned by AB 403 requires residential treatment centers like Hillsides to develop a fuller array of services or a spectrum of care settings that offer lesser restrictive environments, such as foster homes. This will be achieved through our affiliation with Bienvenidos, which provides foster care services. What will emerge as an integrated service delivery system is part of a broader healthcare agenda that comprehensively provides for the restoration of well-being and health for each child and youth served.
The Nonprofit Sustainability Initiative, launched by Los Angeles foundations, encourages increased nonprofit collaborations. According to Weingart Foundation’s overview of the initiative, the effects of the recession by 2010 were “rapidly changing the landscape in which nonprofits operate. The financial challenges facing the sector continued to proliferate and service demand was on the rise.” This prompted the foundation to join in discussions with California Community Foundation and The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation on how to support the strategic restructuring of nonprofits to encourage increased organizational effectiveness and efficiencies. Upon launching the initiative, the foundations held a meeting with more than 300 nonprofits to educate them on strategic restructuring. What ensued was Bienvenidos exploring strategic affiliations and approaching Hillsides.
The intersection of these public policy initiatives were the driving force behind our decision to consider the potential affiliation with Bienvenidos in the first place. After the required due diligence, we announced our intent to merge in order to leverage our combined resources, expand services, increase impact, and ultimately improve outcomes for those we serve, a combined 13,000 individuals. With this historic milestone to affiliate, we create under the Hillsides umbrella an increasingly effective, ever-responsive, and mission-driven organization that is compliant with recent regulations. We, along with Bienvenidos, continue to be a leader in offering the highest quality care possible to the most vulnerable children, youth, and families. The ultimate test of such an affiliation will be how we fulfill our historic mission to create lasting change for all we serve. Our conviction is that an integrated approach will enable us to be more effective as a provider of indispensable services and deliver on our mission.