Earlier this year, Ken and I presented the work of Unconditional Education to the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission. During this presentation, Senator Beall, who sits on the committee, asked that Seneca support his efforts to develop a bill that would promote this integrated approach throughout the state. This spring, Senator Beall introduced Senate Bill 191 which has (so far) passed both the Education and Health Committees with unanimous support.
SB 191 sets up the framework for financial incentives from state revenue to support partnerships amongst county mental health departments and school districts. Through this collaboration, districts would be expected to develop and pilot a program that in addition to reflecting each school’s specified culture and needs, includes all of the following:
- Leveraging of school and community resources to offer comprehensive multi-tiered interventions on a sustainable basis;
- An initial school climate assessment that includes information from multiple specified stakeholders that is used to inform the selection of strategies and interventions that reflect the culture and goals of the school;
- A coordination of services team that considers referrals for services, oversees schoolwide efforts, and uses data-informed processes to identify struggling pupils who require early interventions;
- Whole school strategies that address school climate and universal pupil well-being;
- Targeted interventions for pupils with identified social-emotional, behavioral, and academic needs;
- Intensive services that can reduce the need for pupil’s referral to special education or placement in more restrictive, isolated settings;
- Strategies and practices that ensure parent engagement with the school.
Sound familiar?! The development and support of this bill is further proof that the work you are doing every day is seen as an example of best practice that is worth learning from and replicating. Thank you for serving as an example in this incredibly important work – your efforts are being recognized more than you may know!
Some Supporters of the Bill (not a comprehensive list):
- Alliance for Boys and Men of Color
- California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies
- California School Boards Association
- California Nurses Association
- California State PTA
- Children Now
- Children’s Defense Fund
- National Center for Youth Law
- Seneca Family of Agencies
- United Way
- Western Center on Law and Poverty
Jenny Ventura, Director of Model Implementation