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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.

Stay engaged with Campaign Action Alerts. Sign-up today to use your voice to ensure kids get the help they need when they need it!

The Campaign & HCFA Co-Sponsorship Event.

On January 23rd, the Children's Mental Health Campaign and Health Care For All hosted a legislative co-sponsorship event to advocate for important health care legislation. Campaign advocates presented and discussed our CMHC 2019-2020 priorities with legislators and their teams- to help make sure that Massachusetts prioritizes effective, timely, and compassionate mental health care for kids. Thank you to Senator Friedman for sponsoring the event and all the legislators and their teams for discussing how the Commonwealth can better support those with health care needs!

Rep. Michael Day looks over CMHC legislative priorities.
Monica Luke, an advocate for NAMI-Mass, discussing priorities with legislative staff.
Rep. Balser checks up on the co-sponsorship pledges.
2019 CBH Innovation Award.

Calling all advocates! Is your organization addressing a gap in the children's behavioral health care delivery system? Click here to learn more about the 2019 Massachusetts Children's Behavioral Health Innovation Award.

"Ready for Reform: Behavioral Health Care in Massachusetts"

The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation released "Ready for Reform: Behavioral Health Care in Massachusetts" which describes the current behavioral health care system, examines barriers to care, and proposes recommendations for children, adolescents, and adults in Massachusetts. The time is still now for Massachusetts to make sure every child has access to appropriate and timely behavioral health care!

Hear Audrey Shelto, President of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation, speak with WBUR's Bob Oakes about the report and recommendations.

MHAP for Kids & AG Healey Team Up .

Congratulations to Health Law Advocates and the Mental Health Advocacy Program for Kids on receiving funding from AG Healey’s Social Determinants Partnership program to help expand these important services to New Bedford!

Skip to 9:03 to hear Attorney General Maura Healey talk about how the Mental Health Advocacy Program for Kids is making a difference!

PPAL's New Blog: Rise Up

Don't miss Parent/Professional Advocacy League's newest blog post from a young advocate!

"Rise Up"

"The other day I got stuck in this moment of thought. A short moment where I truly observed where I was standing, where I was breathing, what I was looking at. A room full of youth and walls filled with art work that screamed hope and resilience. The air filled with laughter and belonging, like there was this sense of safety and an absolution that something was going to be okay. It was our weekly youth group, something I had gotten so use to facilitating that I had forgotten that I once walked through the doors of the group for the very first time. It suddenly dawned on me that where I stood now and where I stood many years ago is a victory and I must remind myself every day to appreciate and acknowledge it."
Some Inspiration.
ICYMI: Headlines for You
"The brain systems that govern motivation are built over time, starting in the earliest years of development. These intricate neural circuits and structures are shaped by interactions between the experiences we have and the genes we are born with, which together influence both how our motivation systems develop and how they function later in life. Providing children with the kinds of early life experiences that support the development of healthy, balanced motivation systems is key to ensuring positive outcomes later—for school, work, health, and raising the next generation. Below, learn five quick facts about motivation that are frequently misunderstood."
"A recent study out of Oregon suggests emergency medical responders — EMTs and paramedics — may be treating minority patients differently from the way they treat white patients. Specifically, the scientists found that black patients in their study were 40 percent less likely to get pain medication than their white peers. Jamie Kennel, head of emergency medical services programs at Oregon Health and Science University and the Oregon Institute of Technology, led the research, which was presented in December at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement Scientific Symposium in Orlando, Fla."
"Nearly 2% of high school students identify as transgender and intervention is needed to improve their health outcomes, according to a study released by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) on Friday."
"In Terry Vecchio’s first month as dean of students at Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester, a student told Vecchio she was living with her husband and children in a car. The student was not unique. A 2017 survey by the organization HOPE Lab found that 13 percent of Massachusetts community college students and 10 percent of state university students became homeless in the last year. A number of them were students transitioning out of foster care. Linn Torto, executive director of the Massachusetts Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness and chairwoman of a state commission on unaccompanied homeless youth, said students who do not have enough money for housing in many cases are unable to finish school."
"There will be no more chairmen of Massachusetts House and Senate committees. Instead, they will be called 'chairs.' When the state House and Senate adopted their rules this week, both bodies updated language to make it more gender neutral. Rep. William Galvin, D-Canton, who led the committee that revised the House rules, said the goal was to make language more 'gender neutral and gender inclusive.'"
"When Ronald Braunstein conducts an orchestra, there’s no sign of his bipolar disorder. He’s confident and happy. Music isn’t his only medicine, but its healing power is potent. Scientific research has shown that music helps fight depression, lower blood pressure and reduce pain. The National Institutes of Health has a partnership with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts called Sound Health: Music and the Mind, to expand on the links between music and mental health. It explores how listening to, performing or creating music involves brain circuitry that can be harnessed to improve health and well-being."
"It’s the last class period of the day. The students lean back on couches and take turns describing the most important day of their lives: the day they became sober. For Marques Martinez, that date was Nov. 15, 2016. Until then, he had used OxyContin, Xanax and nearly every other drug he could get his hands on, he said. He had been suspended from school for selling drugs. 'I knew what I was doing was bad,' he said. 'But I didn’t think there was another way.'"
"Toni recalls times Daniel would reach over, put his hands on her face and squish her cheeks. 'And he would go, 'You pretty, Mom,' Toni says. 'Oh my gosh, he just melted my heart when he would say these very loving, endearing things to me.' But as Daniel grew older, he changed. He began to show signs of serious mental illness that eventually manifested in violent outbursts and nearly a dozen psychiatric hospitalizations, starting at age 10. Doctors said he needed intensive, specialized care away from home — institutional services that cost at least $100,000 a year."
"In the United States, deaths due to suicide and unintentional overdose pose a major, and growing, public health concern. The combined number of deaths among Americans from suicide and unintentional overdose increased from 41,364 in 2000 to 110,749 in 2017 and has exceeded the number of deaths from diabetes since 2010."
"The Sackler family behind Purdue Pharma knew that their painkiller OxyContin was causing overdoses, yet continued to cash in as deaths mounted, the Massachusetts attorney general alleges in court documents filed Tuesday. In a new 274-page memorandum, Attorney General Maura Healey details a chain of command that she alleges implicates eight Sackler family members, as well as nine Purdue board members or executives, in the nation's deadly opioid epidemic."
"The Baker Administration is seeking legislative authority for MassHealth to negotiate prices directly with the manufacturers of high-cost drugs that have little or no competition and, if that effort fails to produce savings, to put the companies through a rate-setting process followed by regulatory and legal penalties if the firm fails to charge the target price. The Massachusetts proposal, included in the governor’s fiscal 2020 budget unveiled Wednesday, is part of a broader trend at the state and federal level to rein in the prices of new drugs that can cost as much as $1 million per course of treatment. State officials say 20 drugs recently launched or pending federal regulatory approval are expected to cost $100 million annually after expected rebates are deducted."
"As U.S. immigration enforcement becomes stricter under the Trump administration, more immigrant families are cutting ties with health care services and other critical government programs, according to child advocates who work with these families."

Thank you!

Credits:

Created with images by TheDigitalArtist - "idea innovation inspiration" • Wokandapix - "mental health wellness psychology" • witwiccan - "law books legal" • Nghia Le - "untitled image" • Tim Gouw - "Woman facing Painted Ladies" • Waldemar Brandt - "Newspapers before Sale"

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