Policy and Advocacy

Seneca is committed to informing and improving the local, state, and federal systems that serve children and families. Seneca’s broad geographic range and continuum of mental health, permanency, education, and juvenile justice services position the agency as a leader in shaping public policy. This work can take many forms: local county-level advocacy; state legislation; participation in state-level advisory councils or workgroups; developing partnerships or coalitions to advance innovative systems-change ideas, and more.

Seneca’s long history and proven commitment to the children and families in our programs, paired with our large geographic reach, gives us a “seat at the table” in many policy advocacy conversations about reforming family-serving care systems. However, we are, first and foremost, a direct care agency committed to supporting families through the most difficult times in their lives. Our policy advocacy work seeks to achieve reforms that will best support the children and families we serve and our program staff who are doing the critical work of providing unconditional care.

Seneca’s efforts to inform public policy should always be substantively informed by the voice, experience and need of the dedicated program staff working across Seneca sites, and the youth and families in our programs. If you are a Seneca staff person or a current or past program participant, and would like to connect about our policy work, please find our policy teams’ contact information below. We hope to hear from you!

Advocating in Partnership

Seneca leverages our policy impact by working in coalition with other nonprofit care providers. In California, Seneca is a member of two advocacy organizations: California Alliance for Child and Family Services and California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies. On the national level, Seneca advocates as a part of the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities.

If you are an employee of Seneca, you are also a member of these three advocacy organizations. Check out their websites for updated information on state and federal reform work related to Seneca programs!

Summer, 2021

Our advocacy efforts this Spring will be primarily focused on continued engagement with the California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal initiative (CalAIM). CalAIM is a multi-year effort led by the California Department of Health Care Services to substantively include the voices of stakeholders and consumers in reforming the Medi-Cal system. You can read more about CalAIM here: DHCS CalAIM Overview.

Additionally, Seneca’s Founder, Ken Berrick, serves as a Governor’s Appointee on the Child Welfare Council, a California statewide advisory body committed to improving the systems of care for children and families involved with the child welfare system. Ken co-chairs the Child Welfare Council’s Behavioral Health Committee, a group of stakeholders that provides best practice recommendations to the California Health and Human Services Agency on meeting the behavioral health needs of youth and families involved in, or at risk of involvement in, the child welfare system. The committee published a set of Policy Recommendations in January of 2021. The recommendations urge reforms related to the diagnosis requirement for youth in need of EPSDT Specialty Mental Health Services, furnishing an accessible continuum of behavioral health services for youth in every county, and strengthening the data and evaluation infrastructure of the service delivery systems charged with providing behavioral health care to children and families. More information on the Child Welfare Council can be found here: California Child Welfare Council.

Seneca is proud to be participating in the legislative cycle related to AB 47 (Reyes): Coordinated Immigration Support Services and AB-808 (Stone): Foster Youth.

AB 47 (Reyes): Coordinated Immigration Support Services

To build on our commitment to the mental health and wellbeing of children and families impacted by the Federal Government’s “Zero-Tolerance” family separation policy, Seneca is proud to sponsor AB 47 (Reyes). AB 47 would establish a program to coordinate supportive services and link existing resources to families, including culturally responsive  Culturally relevant physical and behavioral health care, legal services, food and grocery resources, education services, housing services and individual, group, and family therapy

AB 808 (Stone): Foster Youth (Now reflected in the Budget Trailer Bill)

As part of our commitment to driving reform in family-serving systems, Seneca is proud to be supporting the process to implement the Children’s Crisis Continuum Pilot.

As an agency, we have sought to create a continuum of care to help children and families through their most difficult times, regardless of their level of need. For over 5 years, Seneca has helped convene stakeholders throughout California to talk about a gap in the system that has left a small group of high-needs youth without access to the services they need. Up until December of 2020, many of these youth were placed out-of-state.

As out-of-state placements have been de-certified and child welfare involved youth are returning to placement in-state near their families and communities, the Children’s Crisis Continuum Pilot will build California’s capacity to support child welfare involved youth with the most complex and pervasive behavioral health needs. By prioritizing local access to both intensive and home-based care, youth benefit from remaining within their families and communities. The pilot program was established in the State Budget Trailer bill, and signed by the governor in July, 2021.


Robin Detterman serves as Seneca’s Chief Program Officer of Educational Services where she provides leadership for the agency’s continuum of district and charter partnerships and five non-public schools, serving over 100 districts and schools in California and Washington State each year. Ms. Detterman started working at Seneca in 2005, and her experience asa special education teacher and administrator informs her current role. In this role, she supports Seneca’s education teams in the development and implementation of high quality, individualized services for students who need additional support at school while working to transform whole schools and school systems into places where all students are welcomed and can thrive. Ms. Detterman holds a MA degree in Special Education and is a graduate of Stanford University, where she earned a Masters degree in Education Policy and Organizational Leadership. She is the co-author of Unconditional Education: Supporting Schools to Serve All Students (Oxford University Press, 2019).


Nathaniel Foster is the Chief Advancement Officer of Seneca Family of Agencies. His focus is on development, fundraising, venture philanthropy, marketing and branding for the whole organization. Nathaniel came to Seneca with a clarity and depth of fundraising knowledge that has accelerated our overall efforts. Nathaniel graduated from the University of Denver with a BS in business and also has his Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership from Seattle University. He has over a decade of experience in the non-profit development & management world, working with local, national, and international organizations. Previously Nathaniel was the Executive Director of Playworks, anonprofit that serves over 700,000 children every school day, concentrating on conflict resolution, leadership skills, emotional intelligence and increased physical activity for elementary schools throughout the country. Before that, he was the Chief Development & Marketing Officer at Lincoln, formerly Lincoln Child Center. He has spent his entire nonprofit career in development, fundraising, board development, venture philanthropy, and communications and is very excited to be working with an organization as wonderful as Seneca Family of Agencies. In addition, he was co-chair for the Oakland Quality Community Schools Committee, currently sits on two for-profit boards, and is a member of the San Francisco Chapter of the Private Asset Liaison Group


Michael Alonso is the Chief Information Officer for Seneca Family of Agencies. Since joining Seneca in 2003, he has provided leadership for all technology related operations throughout the organization. He is responsible for IT strategy and vision as well as oversight for the teams that create and maintain a robust information technology environment in addition to the teams that develop, deliver and support innovative applications specifically created for Seneca’s unique blend of services.Michael is passionate about designing and producing creatively unique solutions to increase efficiency and improve service delivery and is personally involved to a significant degree in Seneca’s application development process. In addition to internally-focused activities, Michael engages with organizations at the county, state and federal levels to represent the technology-related interests and perspective of both Seneca and the broader community of behavioral health providers. These organizations includecounties, other behavioral health providers, state advocacy groups and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONCHIT). Before coming to Seneca, Michael worked in the custom software industry, developing applications tailored for a wide variety of companies representing numerous industries such as healthcare, retail, technology, non-profit and more. During this time, he took an interest not just in the software development process, but also in the broader perspective of organization-wide information technology environments. Michael holds a B.S. in Computer Science from CSU Hayward (now CSU East Bay)


Janet Briggs, Chief Financial Officer of Seneca Family of Agencies, began her endeavor in finance by achieving her bachelors’ degree in Business Economics with an Accounting Emphasis from the University of California Santa Barbara. Janet began her career in Public Accounting working in various industries gaining extensive experience in accounting and business management and then specializing in providing audit and accounting services for various not for profit social service agencies as a CPA. Her in-depth understanding of accounting issues and regulations unique to not for profit agencies has distinguished Janet as a knowledgeable source and leader for this company. Since coming to Seneca in 2002, Janet has supervised and trained an ever-growing accounting staff on various accounting policies and procedures pertaining to Seneca programs. Not only does she review and monitor numerous county and state contracts, Janet also oversees all fiscal activity for over 150 programs in 20 different counties. Attending monthly fiscal program meetings, Janet is dedicated to effectively communicating with directors and managing the financial integrity of Seneca. In an effort to constantly improve practice and management skills, Janet regularly attends conferences and trainings specific to her role at Seneca. In addition to her successes here at Seneca Family of Agencies, Janet also is a mother to two wonderful boys.


Ken Berrick is the founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Emeritus of Seneca Family of Agencies, a nonprofit agency dedicated to providing Unconditional Care to children and families through comprehensive mental health, education, juvenile justice, placement and permanency services. Since its founding in 1985, Seneca has developed innovative programs ranging from Wraparound and Intensive Treatment Foster Care, to integrated mental health services in schools, and a crisis continuum of care for youth and their families. Mr. Berrick is Governor-appointed Commissioner on the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission. He is also a Governor’s Appointee on the California Child Welfare Council, where he co-chairs the Behavioral Health Committee, tasked with developing best practice recommendations to guide policy and inform statewide efforts to effectively address the behavioral health needs of children involved in or at risk of involvement in the child welfare system. Mr. Berrick is a two-time former President of the California Alliance of Child and Family Services and serves on numerous policy planning groups in California at both the county and state-level. He is an elected member and Past-President of the Alameda County Board of Education, and Past-President of the California County Boards of Education. In 2014, he was recognized by California Mental Health Advocates for Children and Youth as Advocate of the Year. In 2017, he was a recipient of the James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award, and in 2021, a recipient of the Jefferson Bronze Award. He is co-author of the books, Unconditional Care: Relationship-Based, Behavioral Intervention with Vulnerable Children and Families (Oxford University Press, 2010), and Unconditional Education (Oxford University Press, 2019).

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Leticia Galyean is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Seneca Family of Agencies, a nonprofit agency dedicated to providing Unconditional Care to youth and their families throughout California and Washington State. She received both her Bachelor’s degree and Masters of Social Work from the University of California, Berkeley.

Leticia began her career with Seneca in 2001 as a Wraparound counselor inspired by the passionate belief that the effects of childhood trauma should be patiently and persistently supported in the context of family and community. Throughout her tenure at Seneca, Leticia has served as Program Director; Regional Executive Director; Executive Director of Data, Evaluation, and Strategic Initiatives; and Chief Operating Officer.

She has developed, led, and evaluated numerous programs across the Bay Area and Central Coast, assisting youth and their families to meet their behavioral health, academic, and permanency goals. Leticia is a frequent presenter at national conferences on Seneca’s Unconditional Care treatment model and behavioral health interventions. As CEO, Leticia oversees all aspects of Seneca including 150+ programs, with 1,400+ employees, serving 18,000+ youth and their families, annually.

She has served as a member of several policy development groups in California at both the county and state-level. Leticia also serves as an active member of the California Alliance for Child & Family Services, California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies, the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, and is a Board member of SOAR for Youth. From the time she was a counselor through her entire tenure at Seneca, Leticia has led with the vision to strengthen the larger systems of care for our most vulnerable youth and their families.