Legislation aims to reduce youth recidivism, increase access to behavioral health care & improve school security
HIGHLANDS RANCH, CO – Governor Jared Polis today signed three bills into law that aim to support Colorado youth by using early interventions to keep kids out of the juvenile justice system, improving school safety and supporting students’ behavioral health.
HB22-1003, championed by Representatives Daugherty and Gonzales-Gutierrez and Senators Coleman and Hinrichsen, will establish the Delinquency Prevention and Young Offender Intervention Pilot Grant Program to help keep kids out of the juvenile justice system.
“Today, we’re making smart investments to increase community safety and improve outcomes for Colorado’s youth,” said Rep. Lindsey Daugherty, D-Arvada. “This law directs funding toward collaborative, community-based programs that provide young Coloradans with the support and services they need. Community is the cornerstone to crime reduction and our law invests to uplift youth and build stronger neighborhoods.”
“Part of preventing crime and creating safer communities involves investing in effective intervention and prevention programs to help stop criminal activity from happening in the first place,” said Senator James Coleman, D-Denver. “By investing in our communities, we can keep more youth out of the juvenile justice system and build a safer Colorado for all, while uplifting our youth so they have the support necessary to lead productive and meaningful lives.”
“When it comes to public safety, we are investing in communities first,” said Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, D-Denver. “Our law will provide resources to community organizations that are working to prevent youth from entering the juvenile justice system in the first place. Through targeted intervention and support programs, we can help youth be set up for success and build safer communities in the process.”
“As we continue to move Pueblo and Colorado forward, we’re committed to making investments that reduce crime and improve public safety,” said Senator Nick Hinrichsen, D-Pueblo. “This bill will help local governments support our youth and reduce recidivism rates in our communities, which will ultimately give young people the support and resources they need and create safer communities across the board.”
The Governor also signed HB22-1243, championed by Representatives Exum, Sr. and Van Winkle as well as Senators Kolker and Hinrichsen, which invests $14 million to improve safety and support behavioral health in public schools.
“Too many kids don’t know where to turn when they’re in a mental health crisis,” said Senator Chris Kolker, D-Centennial. “We’re working hard to break down barriers that prevent people experiencing a crisis from getting support, and making sure every Colorado kid can get the lifesaving care they need. Together, we can work to end the stigma surrounding mental health, expand access to care, and save lives.”
“Preparing our students for success means improving school safety and expanding access to behavioral health services,” said Rep. Tony Exum, Sr., D-Colorado Springs. “This law takes a multi-faceted approach by providing funding to foster and build safer school environments, as well as extending the successful “I Matter” program, which provides free mental health counseling to Colorado’s youth. Together, these programs will foster healthy learning environments and safer schools across Colorado.”
“As we work to build a safer and healthier Colorado for all, we need to ensure that our schools are better equipped to keep students safe and connect them to the appropriate behavioral health care they need,” said Senator Nick Hinrichsen, D-Pueblo. “Our students have faced tremendous challenges over the last few years, and this bill will help them feel safer in the classroom while ensuring they have increased access to resources that will help them care for their mental health and well-being.”
Finally, the Governor signed HB22-1120, sponsored by Senator Jeff Bridges, D-Greenwood Village, which would reauthorize and make updates to the School Security Disbursement Program, which provides grants for local schools to implement school safety strategies, including physical improvements as well as school emergency response training and student threat assessment training for all school staff.