This week (March 27 & 28), four of us SCCASP members attended the CASP Legislation Day or "Leg Day", in Sacramento. Overall, we had an enlightening time and we're excited to share some of the details with you!
Leg Day is our proverbial act of carving out a seat at the table in order to champion the significance of school-based mental health for children and their families. We were accompanied by practicing school psychs from throughout California — Central Valley, San Diego, Ventura County to name a few. In these two days, we learned about drafted bills and their objectives. Two important bills ask for less red tape so schools can have an easier time accessing existing funds already set aside for school-based mental health services. We then educated our state representatives about these bills in addition to informing the reps about what it is that school psychs actually do. The latter is worth mentioning, as this may not be a surprise to some of you that a condensed version of our job description requires constant refinement depending on our audience. (What’s your job description “elevator pitch”?) On the second day, we provided feedback to members of a state-funded initiative who are working to “enhance, expand and redesign the systems that support behavioral health for children and youth.” Since school psychs have a unique lens on mental and behavioral health due to the nature of our training and where we practice, feedback is crucial in the development of this delivery system!
Your SCCASP Treasurer,
First, some photos:
Emily (Historian) and Darlene (Past President) in front of the Capitol ready to meet with their representatives!
We each received a handy folder prepared by CASP filled with bill rundowns and talking points
Our stickers (see previous photo) sparked conversations with other lobbyists
Katie (Secretary) shaking hands with Erika Salazar from the office of Ash Kalra
A treasurer admiring another treasurer’s office in the Capitol building
Team SSiS (Serving Students in Style)
Department of Education building!
With CASP Board Members, Melissa Wood (President) and Chris Jones (President Elect)
The Bills We Learned
AB 483 asks for a less restrictive medical billing process and a supportive rather than punitive auditing process. Basically, an overall easier way to be reimbursed from existing federally allocated money for school-based health services. This is related to the current Medi-Cal LEA BOP billing process.
SB 551 asks that counties be held accountable to follow through with their obligation to provide mental health services to children by collaborating with schools to provide those services. This is related to Prop 63 that was passed in 2004.
SB 691 asks there be universal, annual screenings for dyslexia for children in Kindergarten through second grade.
AB 438 asks that IEP transition planning start at 14 years old rather than its current age of 16 years.
Representatives We Met
State Senator Dave Cortese, district 15 (Campbell and San Jose)*
State Senator John Laird, District 17 (Monterey, Santa Clara, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Cruz Counties)
Assemblyperson Ash Kalra, 27th district (eastern San José)*
Assemblyperson Gail Pellerin, 28th district (Santa Cruz County through South San Jose and Morgan Hill)
Talking Points with CYBHI**
We spoke with representatives from the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative, which was established in 2021 as a five-year initiative with a 4.4 billion dollar investment to support behavioral health for children. Below is not an exhaustive list of the topics that were discussed.
There are many organizations involved in helping families, especially those who have multiple health or social services providers. Will there be oversight on helping families navigate through all of the different systems so families are not feeling like they are being pushed around from one organization to another?
School psychologists should be involved in all aspects of the planning and restructuring of this initiative.
Who’s going to oversee and train the “wellness coaches” who are supposedly responsible for delivering services such as parenting classes, mental health coaching, and general academic coaching? Schools have experienced that hired individuals are not prepared for the expectations of their roles, which leads to high turnover rates, which causes harm to children who have developed attachments to these individuals.
There should be case management for families with children with high-risk health factors in order to help them navigate through their multiple providers.
Beyond just supporting the students, there should be an emphasis on supporting their families because we know that many behavioral/mental health issues we see at school largely are due to students’ family dynamics.
There should also be consideration for families who have difficulties accessing digital content because not every parent/guardian has access to smartphones, computers and Wi-Fi, or just general understanding on tech usage.
Mental health funds should extend beyond direct service (i.e. individual or group counseling) to indirect services such as staff and parent trainings.
Our Personal Highlights!
Katie: I loved hearing and learning about relevant bills from people like Amanda Dickey who is the government relations director of SCCOE!
Emily: It was fun randomly striking up a conversation with doctors who wanted to learn more about school-based mental health. One of them was on the board of DHCS who oversees Medi-Cal. Organic conversations are the best!
Darlene: Not too many people get to have direct meetings with their state and assembly members so it was great to actually get to do that!
Ellen: I enjoyed seeing different Cali practitioners band together to advocate for the same thing. Even though we're all at different districts serving different types of demographics, we can all agree that accessible school-based mental health is super important!
*Met with someone in their office
**A few CASP board members act as consultants to help with their planning process. Join CASP to get involved!