OLYMPIA – In another marathon-length legislative day, the state House gave its overwhelming approval Friday to a pair of bipartisan bills sponsored by Rep. Lisa Callan (D-5, Issaquah). Friday’s votes came a day after another Callan bill (HB 1373) passed out of the House with a 93-5 vote and moved to the Senate.
That bill aims to help students find behavioral health resources through school websites and social media channels. One of today’s Callan bills, HB 1295, stays in the education field but turns its attention to another group of vulnerable young people.
“School-aged youth who are in or recently released from institutional facilities are at a crucial point in their lives,” Callan said. “HB 1295 works to ensure they have access to a meaningful education, and have a pathway to graduate with post-secondary opportunities, giving these students, our kids who are struggling the most, hope for a better future.”
HB 1295, which grew out of Callan’s work as co-chair of the bipartisan Improving Institutional Education Programs and Outcomes Task Force, is designed to increase the quality of, and access to, the education resources and programs that exist for young people during this difficult time in their lives. It brings together the various entities that have a hand in educating institutionalized youth – the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Department of Children, Youth, and Families, the State Board of Education, and local educational service districts and the schools they serve. It calls on each of them to improve education access and delivery, student supports, data collection and reporting, and facility policies. HB 1295 gained unanimous approval in the House and now moves to the Senate.
Callan’s other bill voted up by the House Friday (HB 1325) also resulted from her work during the legislative interim, in this case as co-chair of the state’s Children and Youth Behavioral Health Work Group. This bipartisan team includes lawmakers, representatives from state agencies and behavioral health organizations, parents, medical and behavioral health providers, and young people. The work group met throughout the year and produced a report that made recommendations to the Legislature and governor from each of its four advisory groups:
- pre-natal to age five relational health
- workforce and rates
- student behavioral health and suicide prevention
- youth and young adult continuum of care
Each of these areas is addressed in HB 1325. This bill, cosponsored by both Democrats and Republicans, establishes a partnership access line for primary care providers of pregnant and post-partum women with questions about behavioral health care, and a referral access line for families seeking to find behavioral health providers for teens and younger children. It also updates the Medicaid diagnostic practice for our young ones, covering more visits for assessment and diagnosis.
“Ensuring families have the behavioral health support they need as soon as possible gives our children their best chance to thrive. The need clearly is there. The goal of this bill is to make it easier to connect those in need of behavioral health care and support with someone who can help.”
HB 1325 was OK’d with a 92-5 majority in the House and will be taken up in the Senate next week.
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