37 Recommendations

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RECOMMENDATIONS FOR TEXAS LEGISLATURE

  1. Restore the $5.4 billion in education funding cuts made during the 82nd Legislature

  2. Restore the almost $13 million in funding cuts made to Communities in Schools during the 82nd Legislature.

  3. Increase funding for substance abuse prevention, intervention and treatment for children and adolescents.

  4. Increase funding for children’s mental health treatment services.

  5. Designate at least 5% of current funding for children’s mental health treatment services to prevention programs, such as mental health literacy, personal safety, and suicide prevention.

  6. Appropriate General Revenue funds to increase grants for school-based health clinics.

  7. Require, in educator preparation programs, that teachers receive training in the detection and education of students with behavioral health issues.

RECOMMENDATION FOR STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION

  1. Adopt comprehensive standards in Social and Emotional Learning for kindergarten through 12th Grade.

RECOMMENDATION FOR HARRIS COUNTY COMMISSIONERS COURT

  1. Increase funding for the Community Youth Services program.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE HEALTH SERVICES (DSHS), IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE TEXAS EDUCATION AGENCY (TEA) AND REGIONAL EDUCATION CENTERS. 

  1. Compile a list of the following programs and tools from which school districts may choose to implement:

  • Best practice-based, culturally competent universal prevention (including violence-prevention), mental health promotion and positive youth development programs.

  • Validated mental health and substance abuse screening instruments that school districts can use to identify students with mental health and substance abuse issues.

  • Best practice-based, culturally competent mental health and substance abuse interventions.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR SCHOOL DISTRICTS

  1. Require teachers, nurses, counselors, principals and all other appropriate personnel to receive culturally competent training in how to recognize and appropriately respond to signs of behavioral health issues in students.

  2. Implement best practice-based culturally competent mental health and substance abuse interventions.

  3. Implement a best practice-based, culturally competent universal prevention program in each school.

  4. Implement Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), or programs with similar components, district-wide with fidelity.

  5. Implement curricula focused on social skills and good decision-making.

  6. Offer opportunities for parents and students to receive education about signs of behavioral health issues in students, as well as parent support groups.

  7. Adopt clear and comprehensive policies that ensure students who are identified or referred receive appropriate interventions and/or referrals for services at the lowest appropriate level, including ensuring that:

  • Evaluations for Section 504 services are integrated into the RTI process.

  • The RTI process has sufficient flexibility, including providing parents and external psychological/psychiatric evaluations with a “fast-track” to a special education or Section 504 evaluation.

  • A process exists for referring students with identified behavioral health issues who are not eligible for special education or Section 504 services to appropriate community services.

  1. Work with community agencies/advocates to ensure parents have information about their rights regarding referral to, and during, the Special Ed/Section 504 processes.

  2. Implement strategies to improve school disciplinary policies, including:

  • Reviewing and revising student codes of conduct to minimize discretionary removals, as well as time spent in out-of-school placements.

  • Reviewing data on disciplinary placements among campuses and helping campuses with high numbers of placements to develop and implement alternative strategies, including progressive sanctions.

  1. Collaborate with out-of-school district placement entities to provide transitional service plans for returning students.

  2. Ensure at least one licensed behavioral health professional at each school.

  3. Ensure at least one nurse at each school.

  4. Create a dedicated “navigator” position in schools to help coordinate behavioral health interventions and referrals.

  5. Partner with universities to fill appropriate behavioral health/navigator positions with interns/fellows.

  6. Develop strategies to enroll more students in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

  7. Centralize some decisions about behavioral health interventions at the district level and show support for their implementation.

  8. Designate appropriate space to be used for behavioral health interventions.

  9. Partner with community agencies to provide behavioral health services using tele-health technology.

  10. Host an annual “agency fair” so school administrators are knowledgeable of available programs to support their schools’ behavioral health initiatives.

  11. Partner with community agencies to conduct comprehensive needs assessments for at-risk student populations.

  12. Request parental permission to obtain and share important data with other agencies by which a student is being served in order to foster a team of support for the student.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS THAT PROVIDE SCHOOL-BASED SERVICES

  1. Routinely track data on student outcomes and share with school personnel.

  2. When possible, provide behavioral health interventions before or after school.

  3. Ensure that behavioral health services are integrated into school-based medical services.

RECOMMENDATION FOR COMMUNITY BEHAVIORAL HEALTH PROVIDERS 

  1. Review their utilization data for children’s behavioral health services and seek to coordinate the provision of services on-campus.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR COMMUNITY BEHAVIORAL HEALTH ADVOCATES

  1. Conduct an anti-stigma, public awareness campaign regarding children’s mental health issues.

  2. Develop a policy paper for school districts explaining the link between behavioral health and academic performance.