The House Committee on Education today passed HB20-1005, bipartisan legislation sponsored by Representative Dafna Michaelson Jenet and Kevin Van Winkle, by a vote of 13-0. The bill would enhance Colorado’s Safe2Tell program.

“The Safe2Tell program saves lives and is a critical resource for Colorado youth,” said School Safety Committee Chair Rep. Michaelson Jenet (D-Commerce City). “This bill would ensure that when a student reaches out for help, that the person who answers the line is equipped to address either the student’s mental or physical health concerns. I’m proud of the legislation we’ve drafted to improve school safety, and I’m pleased to see these bills begin to move forward.”

Safe2Tell, developed in Colorado after the Columbine tragedy, provides students a confidential way to report and talk with someone about behavioral health issues and has become a national model. Other states have taken Colorado’s lead, adapting the now 20-year-old program for new technologies and best practices developed in recent years.

The Safe2Tell enhancements would include aligning the Safe2Tell program and the crisis hotline more closely to ensure that individuals in crisis can rapidly access crisis counseling. It would also align the processes for all types of incoming tips and adjust the annual advertising campaign to most efficiently raise awareness about the program and reduce its misuse. Finally, it would enhance law enforcement’s ability to prevent imminent physical harm.

Today, the Senate Committee on Education also passed SB20-001, sponsored by Senator Rhonda Fields and Representatives Emily Sirota and Van Winkle, which would expand access to behavioral health training for educators so that more students can get the behavioral health care they need.