For Low-Income Children, Access to Mental Health Care Varies Sharply by County

The man standing inside Norma Pedroza’s apartment wasn’t supposed to be there.

It was a typical weekday afternoon in October, 2016, and Pedroza had just arrived at her apartment in Costa Mesa, Orange County, with her two sons, Gerardo and Cesar. The man – caught off guard as he tried to burgle their house – was as shocked to see them as they were him. He charged at the family with a knife, stabbing 11-year-old Cesar six times and puncturing the boy’s left lung. He fled outside, where he was apprehended by a police officer who had just arrived on the scene.

What followed for Cesar was 10 days in the hospital and months of recovery, not only from physical but also emotional wounds. Normally a happy, outgoing boy, Cesar became withdrawn and panic-stricken, his mother said.

“There were times we couldn’t get him out from under the bed, he didn’t want to go outside,” Pedroza recalled. “Other times he just wanted to be in the street because he felt safer there than in the house.” (read more)