11 Things the 84th Legislature Can Do to Support the Mental Health of Children

Prevent Adverse Experiences that Put Kids at Risk for Mental Health Concerns. When Risks are Present, Intervene Early to Mitigate Their Impact.

1. Increase funding in to community based prevention and early intervention efforts across agencies shown to improve children’s mental health outcomes, including:

  • Home Visiting Programs (HHSC)
  • Early Childhood Intervention (DARS)
  • Substance Abuse Prevention & Intervention (DSHS)
  • Mental Health Crisis Intervention (DSHS)
  • Child Abuse and Delinquency Prevention and Intervention Programs (DFPS; TJJD)

2. Require comprehensive psycho-social assessments for children upon entering foster care, including trauma screens.

  • SB 125 by Sen. West

Foster Safe and Supportive Learning Environments to Help All Students Learn.

3. Include mental health as a required component of state and local coordinated school health efforts.

  • SB 518 by Sen. Uresti

4. Provide school personnel, including school officers, with training to recognize and effectively respond to students who with mental health or substance use concerns.

  • HB 2279 by Rep. Walle
  • HB 2218 by Rep. Coleman / SB 674 by Sen. Campbell
  • HB 2220 by Rep. Coleman / SB 133 by Sen. Schwertner

5. Ensure school counselors are available to promote students’ social emotional development and to counsel students with concerns interfering with their learning.

  • HB 1434 by Rep. McClendon
  • HB 313 and HB 357 by Rep. Gonzalez
  • HB 729 by Rep. Lucio III / SB 167 by Sen. Lucio
  • HB 730 by Rep. Lucio III / SB 165 by Sen. Lucio

Increase Access to Effective Treatment & Services for Youth with Mental Illness.

6. Increasing funding to the Dept. of State Health Services for:

  • Community based, outpatient mental health treatment
  • Mental health crisis services
  • Inpatient mental health treatment
  • Intensive residential treatment services for children referred by the Dept. of Family and Protective Services (relinquishment prevention)

7. Increase funding to the Dept. of Family and Protective Services for:

  •  Residential Treatment Services, with increased accountability measures to ensure safe, effective, trauma informed care
  • Sub Acute Inpatient Treatment
  • Intensive In-Home, Wrap Around Training for Child Placing Agencies (CPAs)

8. Increase funding to strengthen mental health and substance abuse services to youth served by the Texas Juvenile Justice Department and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Texas Correctional Office on Offenders with Medical or Mental Impairments (TCOOMMI), including re- entry services and supports.

9. Require HHSC to continue interagency efforts to strengthen state and local "systems of care” to provide seamless, coordinated services to children and youth with serious mental illness and their families who have complex, multisystem needs.

  • HB 2048 by Rep. Naishtat

10. Provide Medicaid reimbursement for peer services provided by certified peer specialists, including Certified Family Partners who are uniquely qualified to assist families caring for children with mental illness

  • HB 1541 by Rep. Burkett

11. Create student loan repayment assistance for mental health professionals

  • HB 2434 by Rep. Coleman
  • HB 1241 by Rep. Lozano
  • SB 239 by Sen. Schwertner

Listed legislation refers to bill language as filed, as of March 6, 2013.