A bipartisan package of measures aimed at improving school safety (see previous post) has cleared its first hurdle toward passage in the U.S. Senate. The 64-to-34 vote came just hours after Republicans and Democrats released the text of the legislation. Proponents hope to pass the bill through the U.S. Senate by Saturday.
The 80-page bill, called the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, would provide millions of dollars for expanding mental health resources in communities and schools in addition to funds devoted to boosting school safety.
A “one-pager” fact sheet on the bill, summarizes the provisions designed to expand mental health resources for schools and communities and to boost school safety as follows:
Investment in Children and Family Mental Health Services
Supports national expansion of community behavioral health center model; improves access to mental health services for children, youth, and families through the Medicaid program and CHIP; increases access to mental health services for youth and families in crisis via telehealth; and provides major investments at the Department of Health and Human Services to programs that expand provider training in mental health, support suicide prevention, crisis and trauma intervention and recovery.
Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic: Expands the existing Medicaid CCBHC demonstration program to all states to increase access to community based behavioral health services.
School-based mental health: Helps states to implement, enhance, and expand school-based health programs under Medicaid through updated guidance, technical assistance, and state planning grants. The bill establishes a technical assistance center and includes provisions to ensure it includes resources specifically designed to help support small and rural school districts in obtaining payment for the provision of assistance under Medicaid.
Gold standard in mental health coverage for children: Improves oversight of states’ implementation of Medicaid’s Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit, the country’s gold standard in children’s health coverage, to strengthen children’s access to comprehensive mental health care services.
Telehealth mental health services for children: Requires CMS to provide guidance to states on how they can increase access to behavioral health services through telehealth under Medicaid and CHIP.
Telehealth consults for pediatricians and mental health specialists: Provides $80 million in grants to support pediatric primary care providers to rapidly access mental health specialists’ expertise in guiding the treatment of their patients. Reauthorizes the program for five years and expands telehealth consults into emergency departments and schools.
Training for pediatric providers: Appropriates $60 million over five years for training in mental health for primary care clinicians who treat children and youth.
Community and first responder mental health training: Appropriates $120 million over four years to prepare and train community members and first responders on how to appropriately and safely respond to individuals with mental disorders.
Support for states to expand mental health services: Provides $250 million for states, DC, and territories to enhance comprehensive community mental health services.
Building awareness of and access to services for mental health: Appropriates $240 million over four years for programs that increase awareness of mental health issues among school-aged youth, provide training for school personnel and other adults who interact with school-aged youth to detect and respond to mental health issues, and connect school-aged youth who may have behavioral health issues and their families to needed services.
School-based trauma support: Includes a set aside of $28 million for grants to support trauma care in school settings.
Support after traumatic events: Appropriates $40 million over four years to improve treatment and services for children, adolescents, and families who have experienced traumatic events.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline/9-8-8: Appropriates $150 million to support implementation of the 9-8-8 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline that provides 24/7, free and confidential support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.
Funding for Schools
Invests in programs to expand mental health and supportive services in schools, including early identification and intervention programs, school-based mental health and wrap-around services, improvements to school-wide learning conditions, and school safety.
School-Based Mental Health Services and Staff: Provides $500 million through the School Based Mental Health Services (SBMHS) Grant Program to increase the number of qualified mental health service providers that provide school based mental health services to students in school districts with demonstrated need.
Training and Pipeline Development for School-Based Mental Health Staff: Provides $500 million in funding to the School Based Mental Health Service Professionals Demonstration Grant. This money will help train and diversify the pipeline of school counselors, school social workers, and school psychologists.
Improving Conditions for Student Learning: Provides $1 billion in funding through Title IV-A to support a variety of activities to improve conditions for student learning, including developing positive school climates through evidence-based practices.
Out-of-School Programs: Provides $50 million in funding to the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which funds extracurricular, afterschool and summer programs, with a focus of new funding to target programs for older youth.
School Safety: Provides $300 million in funding through the STOP School Violence Act to institute safety measures in and around schools, support school violence prevention efforts and provide training to school personnel and students. Codifies the schoolsafety.gov clearinghouse, which provides evidence-based resources to improve school safety.
We will provide more details on this legislation as they become available.