April 13, 2022

JOINT RELEASE: HOUSE, SENATE UNVEIL CHILD MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES PROGRAM

DENVER, CO – The House introduced bipartisan legislation sponsored by Representative Emily Sirota (D-Denver) and Senator Tammy Story (D-Evergreen) to expand evidence-based behavioral health programs for young children experiencing chronic stress or trauma.


Co-sponsored by Representative Rod Pelton (R-Cheyenne Wells) and Senator Jerry Sonnenberg (R-Logan), this bill invests $2 million of one-time pandemic relief funding to improve behavioral health outcomes for our youngest Coloradans.

“Stressful and traumatic conditions take a major toll on young children and can negatively impact long-term behavioral health and brain functioning,” said Rep. Emily Sirota, D-Denver. “With this once-in-a-generation funding, we’re improving our kids’ behavioral health outcomes by investing in early intervention and home-based prevention tailored towards young children and their families experiencing chronic stress or trauma.”

“Over the past several years, the pandemic has added new and increased stress to Coloradans’ lives, including young children,” said Sen. Tammy Story, D-Evergreen. “It’s essential that we provide robust behavioral health opportunities for Colorado’s kids. By investing in the mental health and well-being of our youngest Coloradans today, we’re supporting their brighter tomorrows.”

HB22-1369 is one in a series of bills to invest millions in our state’s economic recovery and deliver urgently-needed relief to Coloradans. The bill invests $2 million in pandemic relief funding to provide evidence-based behavioral health programs for children under the age of six-years-old experiencing chronic stress or trauma at home.

Neurobiological research confirms that stressful experiences early in life can have destructive impacts on the brain, while nurturing relationships between children and caregivers provide a protective buffer from stress. The impacts of the pandemic exacerbated long-standing behavioral health challenges and made everyday life more difficult for Coloradans. This bill invests in a home-based prevention and early intervention mental health program for children and their families to address the psychological damage caused by chronically stressful experiences.

The new Department of Early Childhood will work with non-profit behavioral health care organizations to implement this program.