House Bill 100, a bill designed to improve the mental wellbeing of elementary school students throughout Delaware by providing more direct, in-school resources was approved and released by the House Education Committee last week, but then was placed in the House Appropriations Committee. That is to be expected, since the Fiscal Note accompanying the bill reveals its cost over the next three years:
- Fiscal Year 2022: State: $23,889,900 / Local: $8,912,503
- Fiscal Year 2023: State: $24,606,597 / Local: $9,179,878
- Fiscal Year 2024: State: $25,344,795 / Local: $9,455,274
House Bill 100 would establish a mental health services unit for Delaware elementary schools, allowing for schools to hire one full-time school counselor, school social worker, or licensed clinical social worker for every 250 students in grades kindergarten through fifth. It also would allow the hiring of one full-time school psychologist or licensed mental health therapist for every 700 elementary school students.
|House Bill 100 Sponsors||Yes Votes||No Votes|
|Longhurst, Bush, Heffernan, Lambert, Moore, Morrison, Osienski, Schwartzkopf, K.Williams, Baumbach, Bentz, Bolden, Brady, Carson, Chukwuocha, Cooke, Dorsey Walker, Griffith, K.Johnson, Kowalko, Lynn ,Matthews, Minor-Brown, Mitchell, Briggs King, Dukes, M.Smith, Postles, Ramone, D.Short, Shupe, Smyk, Spiegelman, Hensley|
|Pinkney, Gay, Lockman, S.McBride, Sokola, Sturgeon, Townsend, Brown, Ennis, Hansen, Mantzavinos, Paradee, Poore, Walsh, Lopez, Pettyjohn|
|Current Status: House Education 1/28/12|
“As we’ve seen time and time again, schools aren’t just spaces to learn lessons out of a textbook. They are formative years in a child’s life, and mental health services are critical to that foundation. The need for more adequate services has become even clearer during the past year due to COVID, which has put an enormous mental health stress on our children,” said Rep. Valerie Longhurst, the bill’s prime sponsor.
“This bill will address the disparity and shortfall of mental health professionals in Delaware elementary schools. For far too long, the mental health of our students has been treated as a secondary need – if even that much. The truth is, the mental health of our young students is vital to them growing, learning and becoming successful adults. This pandemic has only magnified the need to put our students’ mental wellness at the front of the line.”
According to the CDC, one in six U.S. children aged 2-8 years had a diagnosed mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder, such as depression, ADHD, anxiety and other behavioral problems. Untreated mental illness can lead to increased risk of dropout, homelessness, substance abuse, other chronic illnesses, incarceration, and possibly suicide.
“The Delaware State Education Association stands behind this bill whole heartedly. We believe that every student in every school should be guaranteed mental health services, because mental illness knows no demographic,” said DSEA President Stephanie Ingram. “Teachers tell us that students learn better when they receive the extra supports needed to handle trauma experienced outside of the classroom.
“School social workers, school psychologists, and school counselors provide a unique skill set that each identify solvable problems and direct students to the necessary supports. HB 100 is needed now more than ever before, and our students are worth the cost.”