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Health News Florida

Lawmakers give nod to bill that would bolster mental health resources for families

state Rep. Christine Hunchofsky, D-Parkland.png
CSPAN
House bill sponsor state Rep. Christine Hunchofsky, D-Parkland, said the proposal will “help both the student and their family get the care they need.”

The proposal would require schools to provide parents of students receiving mental health services with information about additional services available through the school or in the community.

Florida lawmakers are starting to take action on a bill that aims to connect family members of students receiving mental health services with additional resources.

The House Early Learning & Elementary Education Subcommittee advanced the measure (HB 899) with a unanimous vote on Thursday.

The proposal would require schools to provide parents of students receiving mental health services with information about additional behavioral health services available through the school or in the community.

To meet the requirement, schools could provide internet addresses for web-based directories of services.

The measure also would connect people living in the same home as a student receiving mental health assistance with behavioral health services, if “enhancements in those individuals' behavioral health would contribute to the improved well-being of the student.”

House bill sponsor Christine Hunchofsky, D-Parkland, said the proposal will “help both the student and their family get the care they need.”

The measure received backing from Tony Montalto, whose daughter Gina was one of 17 people who were killed during a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018. Montalto is president of the group Stand With Parkland, which advocates for safety and mental health reforms in schools.

“This particular bill will help us by not only looking at the student but looking at the whole family,” Montalto told reporters following Thursday’s meeting. “It’s the environment that the student is in that we need to fix, and this bill will help provide information (on) services that are available.”

An identical measure (SB 1240) has been filed in the Senate.