The Senate unanimously passed a bill sponsored by House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst and Senator Laura Sturgeon, House Bill 4, that would ensure that students have access to behavioral health support in their schools in the aftermath of a school-connected traumatic event that affects a significant portion of the student body, including the death of a classmate, educator or other public school employee.
Known as Nolan’s Law in honor of Wendy Eastburn-Teal’s son who died by suicide last year, HB 4 would task the Delaware Department of Education with developing guidance, best practices and written resources for schools dealing with traumatic events. DOE also would be responsible for covering the costs of grief counseling offered to students for up to 45 days after a school-connected traumatic event, with an option to renew for an additional 45 days.
|House Bill 4 – Post Traumatic Event Behavorial Health Support||Currrent Status – House Passed 36-0-5. Senate Passed 21-0. Sent to the Governor.|
|House Sponsors – Longhurst, Heffernan, Minor-Brown, Neal Chukwuocha, Moore, Morrison, Osienski // Smith Hensely||Senate Sponsors – Sturgeon, Hansen, Hoffner, Huxtable, McBride, Poore|
|House Yes Votes – Baumbach Bolden Bush Carson Chukwuocha Cooke Dorsey-Walker Harris Johnson Lambert Longhurst Lynn Matthews Minor-Brown Moore Morrison Osienski Parker-Selby Phillips Romer Schwartzkopf Williams // Dukes Gray Hensley Hilovsky Morris Ramone Short Shupe Smith Spiegelman Yearick Briggs King, Postles, Collins||Senate Yes Votes – Brown Gay Hansen Hoffner Huxtable Lockman Mantzavinos McBride Paradee Pinkney Poore Sokola Sturgeon Townsend Walsh // Buckson Hocker Lawson Pettyjohn Richardon Wilson|
|House No Votes – None||Senate No Votes – None|
|House Absents or Not Voting – Griffith, Neal, Heffernan, Wilson-Anton, Vanderwende||Senate Absent or Not Voting – None|
“Our kids are struggling with their mental health in ways many of us can’t even begin to understand, and if we don’t act quickly to address this crisis, the long-term consequences could be dire,” said Rep. Longhurst.
“We have taken an important step forward to deliver the compassionate, comprehensive mental health support our kids need and deserve, but we’re not stopping here. I’m grateful to my colleagues for recognizing the importance of these measures and I’m looking forward to advancing the remaining components of the 2023 Delaware Behavioral Health Package in the General Assembly.”
“During my 25-year tenure as a public-school teacher, there were many devastating losses of young people and of building staff that my students, my colleagues, and I experienced together. I saw the lasting impact this had on my students and was grateful when they were able to access counseling for their grief and for the other emotions that such a loss triggered for them” said Sen. Laura Sturgeon, Senate primate sponsor of HB 4.