Kings County is moving forward with a children’s mental health services contract with a Southern California provider that has a checkered history, in turn severing ties with Fresno-based provider Kings View.
Kings View has provided specialist mental health services to children and adolescents in Kings County for decades, reporting to the Kings County Behavioral Health Department.
The company completed negotiations with director Dr Lisa Lewis in April for an extension of their contract earlier this year, with the company signing the deal in April.
A month later, Kings County took the contract to bid.
It received three responses, one from Kings View and another from the eventual winner – San Diego-based Mental Health Systems, Inc.
After the presentations, county staff recommended to the supervisory board that the county award the contract to Mental Health Systems, which appealed from Kings View.
The supervisory board ruled on Tuesday that Kings View’s protest lacked merit and that the county would stay with Mental Health Systems.
Kings View simultaneously provides the same services for adults, who were not affected by the Tuesday contract change.
Kings View chief executive Amanda Nugent Divine told the board that the organization was “extremely disappointed” that the appeal was dismissed.
“We have always enjoyed our working relationship, as we mentioned earlier, with the county and will continue to always welcome feedback from staff and this board,” said Nugent Divine.
Nugent Divine asked the board to allow as much time as possible before entering into the contract with mental health services in order to allow sufficient time to effectively transition services.
“As you know, continuity of service is paramount for the well-being of our children,” said Nugent Divine. “Our customers and staff are at the center of every decision we make at Kings View and we ask this board to do everything in its power to provide sufficient time to ensure the proper transition of the services in question, even if this involves an overlap with MHS so that we can offer warm transfers and help them get to know our children. Whatever it may sound like, we want to make sure that we prepare our children for success and to successfully build new relationships and therapeutic bonds. ”
The board did not comment on Nugent Divine’s request for additional time to transition services, but supervisor Doug Verboon thanked Kings View for his work with the county.
“I know it’s hard to make a call like this when you move from one leadership to the next, but you are highly respected in our community and we wish you all the best,” said Verboon. “But we have to do what we have to do, and it’s good to keep people invigorated and new to blood. You are respected and we thank you for your service. We want a smooth transition and hope that things will work out.
Mental Health Systems’ turbulent past was revealed in 2016 when former CFO Michael Hawley filed a complaint with San Diego County claiming the provider was charging its federal, state, and county contracts between $ 1 million and $ 4 million. dollars per week of out-of-pocket expenses that had not been incurred.
This led to a San Diego County audit, which found the county’s billing allegations to be true.
According to the audit, mental health systems had nearly $ 180,000 in expenses related to county contracts overdue for more than 31 days.