House Passes Behavioral Health in Schools Package

House passes three bills to enhance the Safe2Tell program, allow behavioral analysts in public schools and excuse absences for behavioral health issues

DENVER, CO– The House today passed a package of bills, sponsored by Representatives Meg Froelich, Dafna Michaelson Jenet, and Lisa Cutter, to improve the state of behavioral health in public schools and support students with behavioral health issues. All three bills passed with broad bipartisan support.

HB20-1005, sponsored by Representative Dafna Michaelson Jenet would make enhancements to Colorado’s Safe2Tell program, including aligning the Safe2Tell program and the crisis hotline more closely to ensure that individuals in crisis can rapidly access crisis counseling. This bipartisan legislation also sponsored by Rep. Kevin Van Winkle came out of the School Safety Interim Committee. The bill was passed by a vote of 60-4.

“Improving our Safe2Tell program will ensure that it can continue to save lives and provide a critical resource for our youth,” said Rep. Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City. “Making the changes necessary to address our youth behavioral health epidemic is like solving a complex puzzle. The bills we passed today to enhance Safe2Tell and ensure that public schools allow excused behavioral health absences to reduce stigma are important pieces of the puzzle, and I’m glad we were able to advance these common sense policies today.”

HB20-1058, sponsored by Rep. Froelich, would require local school boards and other education service providers to adopt a policy that will allow behavior health analysts to  provide medically necessary services to students in public schools by July, 2021. The bill was passed by a vote of 64-0.

“This bill is the culmination of a great deal of passionate advocacy from concerned parents across the state,” said Rep. Meg Froelich, D-Englewood. “We took an important step forward today and cleared a path towards improving educational and behavioral health outcomes for all of Colorado’s students.”

SB20-014, Sponsored by Reps. Michaelson Jenet and Cutter, would require schools to excuse absences for behavioral health concerns in their attendance policies. This bill came out of the School Safety Interim Committee and passed the Senate and House Education Committee unanimously. The bill was passed by a vote of 64-0..

“It’s time to end the stigma around behavioral health and tackle our state’s mental health crisis head-on.” said Rep. Lisa Cutter, D-Jefferson County. “Allowing behavioral health absences will begin to normalize the practice of caring for one’s mental health among our youth and hopefully make a real impact on our soaring rates of anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation.”