Capitol Update: Teacher diversity bill features testimony from Stephanie Perez-Carrillo

Written by: Riley Kitts
Date Posted: January 31, 2020

A full week means a full workload! We didn’t have any Children’s Campaign priority bills up for a vote this week, but that doesn’t mean that we weren’t still busy advocating under the Gold Dome. This week we were proud to support some partners and legislators on bills they are working on. On Tuesday, our own Stephanie Perez-Carrillo testified in the House Education Committee on House Bill 1007 from Reps. James Coleman and Bri Buentello. This bill requires a close look at the barriers to hiring and retaining teachers of color and then generate recommendations on how to remove those barriers. Stephanie delivered heartfelt remarks about her own experience as one of the few Latina educators in her former school. Her testimony and testimony from partners like Education Reform Now, Colorado Succeeds, Colorado Youth Congress, and Stand for Children persuaded the committee to approve the bill unanimously!

We were also proud to partner with Mental Health Colorado to host one of our annual Lunch & Learns. The theme was Nurturing Healthy Minds for Babies, Kids, Teens & Families in Colorado. Thank you to all the legislators, staff, aides, interns and advocates who showed up to hear about mental health issues facing expecting and new moms, our youngest kids and teens. What a turnout! Next week, our final Lunch & Learn of the year on Feb. 6 will discuss Fair Local Share: Creating an Equitable & Adequate Tax System to Support Public Education. RSVP here!

On Monday, we will also be providing public comment to the Joint Budget Committee as it develops the 2020-2021 state budget. We will support additional funding for maternal depression screening for families who use Medicaid for their health insurance and for additional state resources to support our successful and evidence-based family planning program. Tuesday is early childhood day in the House Education Committee; the panel will hear four bills starting at 1:30 p.m., including HB1043-Early Childhood Educator Tax Credit Clean Up and HB1053-Early Childhood Workforce Supports. Thank you to all the stakeholders who have worked hard over the last several months to make these bills as strong and robust as possible. It is going to be an exciting hearing!

Our policy staff work hard each week to analyze bills that would impact children and families. Here are a few highlights, and you can always track all the bills on our Capitol Updates page:

Bill Highlights

Diverse Kindergarten Through 12th Grade Educator Workforce Report (HB20-1007)

This bill would direct the Colorado Department of Higher Education and the Colorado Department of Education to convene a workgroup on diversity in the educator workforce. The workgroup would be charged with investigating barriers to the preparation, retention, and recruitment of a diverse educator workforce and present strategies to the education committees to increase diversity in the educator workforce.  It would also require the Department of Higher Education and the Department of Education to share first time pass rates for Colorado teacher preparation programs. To read more about this bill and its journey through the legislature, click here.

Peer Support Professionals Behavioral Health (HB20-1139)

Peer support professionals are individuals in recovery from mental health/substance use conditions who use their experience to help others to recover. Medicaid currently limits reimbursable peer support services to clinical facilities, which limits access to peer services. This bill seeks to increase access to peer services by improving how peer-delivered services are billed under Medicaid. The bill would create a new designation, Recovery Support Services Organizations (RSSOs), that could provide and bill for peer support services. Organizations that provide recovery-focused services can apply for the RSSO designation through the Department of Human Services. In addition, this bill would create a tax credit for peer specialist returning to post-secondary school to enhance the behavioral health workforce and help eradicate stigma. To learn more about this bill and its journey through the legislature, click here.