For in-depth fact sheets on the bills mentioned below, please click here!
An expulsion early in life can have a lasting impact on a child's educational and life outcomes; a young child who is suspended or expelled is 10 times more likely to dropout of high school, experience academic failure and grade retention, hold negative school attitudes, and face incarceration. This bill would require that the Department of Early Education and Care align regulations with joint policy recommendations of the US Departments of Health and Human Services and Education and 2017 revision to Head Start Program regulations.
Accurate provider directories are critical to improving access to timely and appropriate care. The Children's Mental Health Campaign, the Mass Collaborative, Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association, Massachusetts Association of Health Plans, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts have worked closely together and with the legislature to develop consensus around the language in this bill.
Despite significant improvements in the availability of mental health care - especially for children who are covered by MassHealth - it is still hard for many children and their families to get the care that they need. This bill mandates the establishment of an ombuds position in the Office of the Child Advocate with the power and authority to identify barriers to mental health treatment. The ombuds would monitor and ensure compliance with relevant child mental health statutes, regulations, rules, and policies and receive, investigate, and resolve complaints filed on behalf of a child.
Addressing the behavioral health needs of students is one of the greatest challenges schools face. Consistent with current efforts to integrate physical and mental health care, this bill updates the physical education mandate to make mental health education a required subject in all Massachusetts public and private schools, in grades K-12.
Mental health parity recognizes that insurance coverage for mental health conditions and substance use disorders must be the same as coverage for physical health problems. Despite significant legislative efforts at both the state and federal level, true parity has yet to be attained. By closing loopholes, increasing transparency, and providing consumers with tools to understand parity and to challenge violations, the Commonwealth can fulfill the promise of true mental health parity.
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