Click here to read the full report on the 37 recommendations.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR TEXAS LEGISLATURE
- Restore the $5.4 billion in education funding cuts made during the 82nd Legislature
- Restore the almost $13 million in funding cuts made to Communities in Schools during the 82nd Legislature.
- Increase funding for substance abuse prevention, intervention, and treatment for children and adolescents.
- Increase funding for children’s mental health treatment services.
- 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.
- Appropriate General Revenue funds to increase grants for school-based health clinics.
- 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
- Adopt comprehensive standards in Social and Emotional Learning for kindergarten through 12th Grade.
RECOMMENDATION FOR HARRIS COUNTY COMMISSIONERS COURT
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- Implement best practice-based culturally competent mental health and substance abuse interventions.
- Implement a best practice-based, culturally competent universal prevention program in each school.
- Implement Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), or programs with similar components, district-wide with fidelity.
- Implement curricula focused on social skills and good decision-making.
- Offer opportunities for parents and students to receive education about signs of behavioral health issues in students, as well as parent support groups.
- 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.
- Work with community agencies/advocates to ensure parents have information about their rights regarding referral to, and during, the Special Ed/Section 504 processes.
- 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.
- Collaborate with out-of-school district placement entities to provide transitional service plans for returning students.
- Ensure at least one licensed behavioral health professional at each school.
- Ensure at least one nurse at each school.
- Create a dedicated “navigator” position in schools to help coordinate behavioral health interventions and referrals.
- Partner with universities to fill appropriate behavioral health/navigator positions with interns/fellows.
- Develop strategies to enroll more students in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
- Centralize some decisions about behavioral health interventions at the district level and show support for their implementation.
- Designate appropriate space to be used for behavioral health interventions.
- Partner with community agencies to provide behavioral health services using telehealth technology.
- Host an annual “agency fair” so school administrators are knowledgeable of available programs to support their schools’ behavioral health initiatives.
- Partner with community agencies to conduct comprehensive needs assessments for at-risk student populations.
- 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
- Routinely track data on student outcomes and share with school personnel.
- When possible, provide behavioral health interventions before or after school.
- Ensure that behavioral health services are integrated into school-based medical services.
RECOMMENDATION FOR COMMUNITY BEHAVIORAL HEALTH PROVIDERS
- 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
- Conduct an anti-stigma, public awareness campaign regarding children’s mental health issues.
- Develop a policy paper for school districts explaining the link between behavioral health and academic performance.