SB19-010 (Fields/McLachlan & Valdez) Professional Behavioral Health Services for Schools
This bill strengthens the School Health Professionals Grant Program by ensuring that schools can hire behavioral health professionals to provide services that promote student mental health and social-emotional development, prevent behavioral health issues, and train staff and students. The bill also ensures that the grant program supports schools where students are experiencing barriers to behavioral health and where access to behavioral health care providers is limited.
The Children’s Campaign supports this bill. Services that support mental health and social-emotional development in schools promote a positive school climate and help students feel more connected to their school and peers, which increases student academic achievement and decreases risky behaviors among youth and adolescents, including substance use. When students feel more supported and connected to their school and peers, it also acts as a protective factor against school violence and youth and adolescent suicide. In addition, mental health and social-emotional supports in schools and training for teachers around behavioral health challenges and supports helps prevent out-of-school suspensions and expulsions and provides alternatives to exclusionary school discipline, including for young children who may need additional supports as they develop social-emotional skills in the classroom. Given that there are roughly 8,400 out-of-school suspensions of preschool through third grade children in Colorado each year, the opportunity to expand this successful program is urgent for our young children as well.
Passed the Senate Health & Human Services Committee on a vote of 4-1 and now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee. Sarah Barnes, our Manager of Special Policy Initiatives, testified in support of the bill.
January 11, 2019
Assigned to the Senate Health & Human Services Committee, where it is scheduled to be heard on Thursday, January 17 at 1:30pm in SCR 354.