As school-age children continue to struggle with the effects of the COVID pandemic on learning and socialization, legislation sponsored by Senator Kristin Corrado to encourage districts to provide access to mental health professionals in schools passed the Senate today and moves to the Governor’s desk for review.
Legislation sponsored by Senator Kristin Corrado incentivizes school districts to provide access to mental health professionals in schools. (Pixabay)
The bill (A-4435/S-2717) would prioritize school districts that operate mental health counseling centers for grants from the School Based Youth Services Program (SBYSP).
Operated under the Department of Children and Families, the SBYSP is located within host schools and coordinates with existing resources in the community.
“This bill will incentivize school districts to operate or host a center offering mental health counseling services to students,” said Corrado (R-40). “The benefits for students can be significant. We want to make it easy for children to get the help they need, and an in-school presence can pay dividends.”
The SBYSP grants would prioritize schools that currently have counseling centers or plan to add one. This is part of a broad effort to ensure mental health assistance for every student that needs it.
SBYSP provides services including mental health counseling, employment counseling, substance abuse education/prevention, preventive health awareness, learning support, healthy youth development, recreation, and information/referral.
“As a result of the pandemic, school-age children are especially at risk for emotional and psychological issues,” said Corrado. “Access to trained and effective mental health professionals in schools can help identify and alleviate issues before students are overwhelmed. Early intervention can be critical, especially for young students whose troubles can be easily obscured within the halls of a busy, stressful school.”
Corrado also sponsors a related bill, A-4433/S-2715, that would establish a grant program to assist school districts in the training of school-based mental health service providers. That legislation was approved by the Senate earlier this week and is awaiting the Governor’s review.
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