Outline of the state of Florida
Encouraged or Required

Early Identification and Referral

Early Identification and Referral

State law encourages or requires districts to implement identification and referral processes to link students and families with needed resources.

Florida Statutes 1006.04 Educational multiagency services for students with severe emotional disturbance.

(1) (a) The multiagency network for students with emotional and behavioral disabilities works with education, mental health, child welfare, and juvenile justice professionals, along with other agencies and families, to provide children with mental illness or emotional and behavioral problems and their families with access to the services and supports they need to succeed. District school boards should provide educational programs, and state departments and agencies administering children’s mental health funds should provide mental health treatment and residential services when needed, as part of the multiagency network.

(b) The purpose of the multiagency network is to:

  1. Enable students with severe emotional disturbance to learn appropriate behaviors, reduce dependency, and fully participate in all aspects of school and community living.

  2. Develop individual programs for students with severe emotional disturbance, including necessary educational, residential, and mental health treatment services.

  3. Provide programs and services as close as possible to the student’s home in the least restrictive manner consistent with the student’s needs.

  4. Integrate a wide range of services necessary to support students with severe emotional disturbance and their families.

(c) The multiagency network shall:

  1. Support and represent the needs of students in each school district in joint planning with fiscal agents of children’s mental health funds, including the expansion of school-based mental health services, transition services, and integrated education and treatment programs.

  2. Improve coordination of services for children with or at risk of emotional or behavioral disabilities and their families by assisting multi-agency collaborative initiatives to identify critical issues and barriers of mutual concern and develop local response systems that increase home and school connections and family engagement.

  3. Increase parent and youth involvement and development with local systems of care.

  4. Facilitate student and family access to effective services and programs for students with and at risk of emotional or behavioral disabilities that include necessary educational, residential, and mental health treatment services, enabling these students to learn appropriate behaviors, reduce dependency, and fully participate in all aspects of school and community living.

(2) The department may award grants to district school boards for statewide planning and development of the multiagency network for students with severe emotional disturbance. The educational services shall be provided in a manner consistent with the requirements of ss. 402.22 and 1003.57.

(3) State departments and agencies may use appropriate funds for the multiagency network for students with severe emotional disturbance.

Policy Type

Florida Statutes 1006.07 District school board duties relating to student discipline and school safety.

Adopt a code of student conduct for elementary schools and a code of student conduct for middle and high schools and distribute the appropriate code to all teachers, school personnel, students, and parents, at the beginning of every school year. Each code shall be organized and written in language that is understandable to students and parents and shall be discussed at the beginning of every school year in student classes, school advisory council meetings, and parent and teacher association or organization meetings. Each code shall be based on the rules governing student conduct and discipline adopted by the district school board and shall be made available in the student handbook or similar publication. Each code shall include, but is not limited to: (k) Policies to be followed for the assignment of violent or disruptive students to an alternative educational program or referral of such students to mental health services identified by the school district pursuant to s. 1012.584(4).

Policy Type

Florida Statutes 1011.62 Funds for operation of schools.

(16) Mental health assistance allocation. — The mental health assistance allocation is created to provide funding to assist school districts in establishing or expanding school-based mental health care; train educators and other school staff in detecting and responding to mental health issues; and connect children, youth, and families who may experience behavioral health issues with appropriate services. These funds shall be allocated annually in the General Appropriations Act or other law to each eligible school district. Each school district shall receive a minimum of $100,000, with the remaining balance allocated based on each school district’s proportionate share of the state’s total unweighted full-time equivalent student enrollment. Charter schools that submit a plan separate from the school district are entitled to a proportionate share of district funding. The allocated funds may not supplant funds that are provided for this purpose from other operating funds and may not be used to increase salaries or provide bonuses. School districts are encouraged to maximize third-party health insurance benefits and Medicaid claiming for services, where appropriate.

(b) The plans required under paragraph (a) must be focused on a multi-tiered system of supports to deliver evidence-based mental health care assessment, diagnosis, intervention, treatment, and recovery services to students with one or more mental health or co-occurring substance abuse diagnoses and to students at high risk of such diagnoses. The provision of these services must be coordinated with a student’s primary mental health care provider and with other mental health providers involved in the student’s care. At a minimum, the plans must include the following elements:

  1. Direct employment of school-based mental health services providers to expand and enhance school-based student services and to reduce the ratio of students to staff in order to better align with nationally recommended ratio models. These providers include, but are not limited to, certified school counselors, school psychologists, school social workers, and other licensed mental health professionals. The plan also must identify strategies to increase the amount of time that school-based student services personnel spend providing direct services to students, which may include the review and revision of district staffing resource allocations based on school or student mental health assistance needs.

  2. Contracts or interagency agreements with one or more local community behavioral health providers or providers of Community Action Team services to provide a behavioral health staff presence and services at district schools. Services may include, but are not limited to, mental health screenings and assessments, individual counseling, family counseling, group counseling, psychiatric or psychological services, trauma informed care, mobile crisis services, and behavior modification. These behavioral health services may be provided on or off the school campus and may be supplemented by telehealth.

  3. Policies and procedures, including contracts with service providers, which will ensure that students who are referred to a school-based or community-based mental health service provider for mental health screening for the identification of mental health concerns and ensure that the assessment of students at risk for mental health disorders occurs within 15 days of referral. School-based mental health services must be initiated within 15 days after identification and assessment, and support by community-based mental health service providers for students who are referred for community based mental health services must be initiated within 30 days after the school or district makes a referral.

  4. Strategies or programs to reduce the likelihood of at risk students developing social, emotional, or behavioral health problems, depression, anxiety disorders, suicidal tendencies, or substance use disorders.

  5. Strategies to improve the early identification of social, emotional, or behavioral problems or substance use disorders, to improve the provision of early intervention services, and to assist students in dealing with trauma and violence.

Policy Type

Florida Statutes 1012.584 Continuing education and inservice training for youth mental health awareness and assistance. —

(4) Each school district shall notify all school personnel who have received training pursuant to this section of mental health services that are available in the school district, and the individual to contact if a student needs services. The term “mental health services” includes, but is not limited to, community mental health services, health care providers, and services provided under ss. 1006.04 and 1011.62(16).

Policy Type