Outline of the state of California

School-based or School-linked Mental Health Services

School-based or School-linked Mental Health Services

State law encourages districts to establish school-based or school-linked mental health promotion and intervention programs.

California Education Code 32282.1 School Safety Plans

(b) The guidelines developed pursuant to subdivision (a) are encouraged to include both of the following: (1) Primary strategies to create and maintain a positive school climate, promote school safety, and increase pupil achievement, and prioritize mental health and intervention services, restorative and transformative justice programs, and positive behavior interventions and support. (2) Consistent with paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) of Section 32282, protocols to address the mental health care of pupils who have witnessed a violent act at any time, including, but not limited to, any of the following:

  • (A) While on school grounds.
  • (B) While going to or coming from school.
  • (C) During a lunch period whether on or off campus.
  • (D) During, or while going to or coming from, a school-sponsored activity.
Policy Type

California Education Code 44046 Rights and Duties

(a) The governing board of a small school district, which does not employ persons charged with school–community duties of counseling students and parents or guardians in their homes, may contract with any qualified social service agency or organization to secure the services, on a part–time or full–time basis, of qualified social workers as counselors in schools and in the homes of pupils. The State Board of Education shall adopt rules and regulations for the implementation of this section, but such social workers shall not be required to hold credentials or certification documents otherwise required under this code for service in the public schools. (b) Social workers authorized to serve under this section, as well as credentialed school social workers in districts other than small school districts, may perform, but are not limited to, the performance of the following service to children, parents, school personnel, and community agencies: (1) Group and individual counseling and casework with parents and children relating to learning and adjustment problems of children, including parent education. (2) Liaison with community resources offering services to schoolchildren and their families. (3) Consultation with parents and others in crisis situations, such as truancy, drug abuse, suicide threats, assaults, and child abuse. (4) Assessment of social and behavioral disabilities affecting learning, including but not limited to case study evaluation, recommendations for remediation or placement, and periodic reevaluation. (5) Participation in and coordination of staff development programs for professional, paraprofessional, and classified school staff and supervision of pupil personnel services workers. (6) Coordination of social service and mental health components of children’s centers and other early childhood development programs in the public schools. (7) Consultation and collaboration with school personnel to promote a school environment responsive to the needs of children and the planning of educational programs which will prepare children to function in a culturally diversified society. (c) As used in this section “small school district” means any of the following school districts: (1) A unified school district having an average daily attendance of less than 1,501. (2) A high school district having an average daily attendance of less than 301. (3) An elementary school district having an average daily attendance of less than 901.

Policy Type

California Education Code 48900.5 Suspension or Expulsion

(a) Suspension, including supervised suspension as described in Section 48911.1, shall be imposed only when other means of correction fail to bring about proper conduct. A school district may document the other means of correction used and place that documentation in the pupil’s record, which may be accessed pursuant to Section 49069.7. However, a pupil, including an individual with exceptional needs, as defined in Section 56026, may be suspended, subject to Section 1415 of Title 20 of the United States Code, for any of the reasons enumerated in Section 48900 upon a first offense, if the principal or superintendent of schools determines that the pupil violated subdivision (a), (b), (c), (d), or (e) of Section 48900 or that the pupil’s presence causes a danger to persons. (b) Other means of correction include, but are not limited to, the following: (1) A conference between school personnel, the pupil’s parent or guardian, and the pupil. (2) Referrals to the school counselor, psychologist, social worker, child welfare attendance personnel, or other school support service personnel for case management and counseling. (3) Study teams, guidance teams, resource panel teams, or other intervention-related teams that assess the behavior, and develop and implement individualized plans to address the behavior in partnership with the pupil and the pupil’s parents. (4) Referral for a comprehensive psychosocial or psychoeducational assessment, including for purposes of creating an individualized education program, or a plan adopted pursuant to Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. Sec. 794(a)). (5) Enrollment in a program for teaching prosocial behavior or anger management. (6) Participation in a restorative justice program. (7) A positive behavior support approach with tiered interventions that occur during the schoolday on campus. (8) After school programs that address specific behavioral issues or expose pupils to positive activities and behaviors, including, but not limited to, those operated in collaboration with local parent and community groups. (9) Any of the alternatives described in Section 48900.6.

Policy Type

California Health and Safety Code 124174.6 Public School Health Center Support Program

The department shall establish a grant program within the Public School Health Center Support Program to provide technical assistance, and funding for the expansion, renovation, and retrofitting of existing school health centers, and the development of new school health centers, in accordance with the following procedures and requirements: (a) A school health center receiving grant funds pursuant to this section shall meet or have a plan to meet the following requirements:

  • (1) Strive to provide a comprehensive set of services including medical, oral health, mental health, health education, and related services in response to community needs.
  • (2) Provide primary and other health care services, provided or supervised by a licensed professional, which may include all of the following:
  • (A) Physical examinations, immunizations, and other preventive medical services.
  • (B) Diagnosis and treatment of minor injuries and acute medical conditions.
  • (C) Management of chronic medical conditions.
  • (D) Basic laboratory tests.
  • (E) Referrals to and followup for specialty care.
  • (F) Reproductive health services.
  • (G) Nutrition services.
  • (H) Mental health services provided or supervised by an appropriately licensed mental health professional may include: assessments, crisis intervention, counseling, treatment, and referral to a continuum of services including emergency psychiatric care, community support programs, inpatient care, and outpatient programs. School health centers providing mental health services as specified in this section shall consult with the local county mental health department for collaboration in planning and service delivery.
Policy Type

California Welfare and Institutions Code 4345. Development of guidelines

The Director of Mental Health shall develop guidelines for primary intervention programs in accordance with the following: (a) School-based programs shall serve children in grades kindergarten through three. (b) The programs may serve children beyond grade three who could benefit from the program but the number of children accepted into the program from grades four and above shall not represent more than 15 percent of the total number of children served. (c) The programs may serve children enrolled in a publicly funded preschool program. (d) The programs shall serve children referred by either a screening process, a teacher, school-based mental health professionals, other school personnel who have had opportunities to observe children in interpersonal contacts, or parents. If a screening process is utilized, behavior rating scales shall constitute the primary instrument from which referrals to primary intervention programs are made. To a more limited extent, observations of children working on structured tasks and standardized projective tests may also be used. (e) The programs may include a parent involvement component. (f) Before acceptance of a child into a primary intervention program, parental consent is required.

Policy Type

California Welfare and Institutions Code 4346. Core team; Responsibilities

(a) Each primary intervention program shall have a core team consisting of school-based mental health professionals, including credentialed school psychologists, school counselors, school social workers, or local mental health program professionals, or a combination thereof, and child aides. (b) The school-based mental health professionals shall be responsible for accepting referred children into the program, supervision of the child aides, assignment of a child to an aide, evaluation of progress, and determination of termination from the program. The mental health professionals shall supervise the scoring and interpretation of screening and assessment test data, conduct conferences with parents, and evaluate the effectiveness of individual aides. (c) Child aides, under supervision of the school-based mental health professional, shall conduct weekly play sessions with children served in the primary intervention programs. Child aides may be salaried school aides, unpaid volunteers or other persons with time and interest in working with young children, and who may be provided stipends to meet expenses. (d) All aides shall undergo a time-limited period of training that is focused on the main intervention strategies of the particular program and is provided prior to direct contacts with the children served in the primary intervention programs. Training shall, at a minimum, include basic child development, crisis intervention, techniques of nondirective play, other intervention skills appropriate to identified problem areas, and instruction in utilizing supervision and consultation.

Policy Type

California Welfare and Institutions Code 5886. Mental Health Student Services Act

(a) The Mental Health Student Services Act is hereby established as a mental health partnership competitive grant program for the purpose of establishing mental health partnerships between a county’s mental health or behavioral health departments and school districts, charter schools, and the county office of education within the county. (b) The Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission shall award grants to county mental health or behavioral health departments to fund partnerships between educational and county mental health entities.

  • (1) County, city, or multicounty mental health or behavioral health departments, or a consortium of those entities, including multicounty partnerships, may, in partnership with one or more school districts and at least one of the following educational entities located within the county, apply for a grant to fund activities of the partnership:
    • (A) The county office of education.
    • (B) A charter school.
  • (2) An educational entity may be designated as the lead agency at the request of the county, city, or multicounty department, or consortium, and authorized to submit the application. The county, city, or multicounty department, or consortium, shall be the grantee and receive any grant funds awarded pursuant to this section even if an educational entity is designated as the lead agency and submits the application pursuant to this paragraph. (c) The commission shall establish criteria for the grant program, including the allocation of grant funds pursuant to this section, and shall require that applicants comply with, at a minimum, all of the following requirements:
  • (1) That all school districts, charter schools, and the county office of education have been invited to participate in the partnership, to the extent possible.
  • (2) That applicants include with their application a plan developed and approved in collaboration with participating educational entity partners and that include a letter of intent, a memorandum of understanding, or other evidence of support or approval by the governing boards of all partners.
  • (3) That plans address all of the following goals:
    • (A) Preventing mental illnesses from becoming severe and disabling.
    • (B) Improving timely access to services for underserved populations.
    • (C) Providing outreach to families, employers, primary care health care providers, and others to recognize the early signs of potentially severe and disabling mental illnesses.
    • (D) Reducing the stigma associated with the diagnosis of a mental illness or seeking mental health services.
    • (E) Reducing discrimination against people with mental illness.
    • (F) Preventing negative outcomes in the targeted population, including, but not limited to:
      • (i) Suicide and attempted suicide.
      • (ii) Incarceration.
      • (iii) School failure or dropout.
      • (iv) Unemployment.
      • (v) Prolonged suffering.
      • (vi) Homelessness.
      • (vii) Removal of children from their homes.
      • (viii) Involuntary mental health detentions.
  • (4) That the plan includes a description of the following:
    • (A) The need for mental health services for children and youth, including campus-based mental health services, as well as potential gaps in local service connections.
    • (B) The proposed use of funds, which shall include, at a minimum, that funds will be used to provide personnel or peer support.
    • (C) How the funds will be used to facilitate linkage and access to ongoing and sustained services, including, but not limited to, objectives and anticipated outcomes.
    • (D) The partnership’s ability to do all of the following:
      • (i) Obtain federal Medicaid or other reimbursement, including Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment funds, when applicable, or to leverage other funds, when feasible.
      • (ii) Collect information on the health insurance carrier for each child or youth, with the permission of the child or youth’s parent, to allow the partnership to seek reimbursement for mental health services provided to children and youth, where applicable.
      • (iii) Engage a health care service plan or a health insurer in the mental health partnership, when applicable, and to the extent mutually agreed to by the partnership and the plan or insurer.
      • (iv) Administer an effective service program and the degree to which mental health providers and educational entities will support and collaborate to accomplish the goals of the effort.
      • (v) Connect children and youth to a source of ongoing mental health services, including, but not limited to, through Medi-Cal, specialty mental health plans, county mental health programs, or private health coverage.
      • (vi) Continue to provide services and activities under this program after grant funding has been expended. (d) Grants awarded pursuant to this section shall be used to provide support services that include, at a minimum, all of the following:
  • (1) Services provided on school campuses, to the extent practicable.
  • (2) Suicide prevention services.
  • (3) Drop-out prevention services.
  • (4) Outreach to high-risk youth and young adults, including, but not limited to, foster youth, youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer, and youth who have been expelled or suspended from school.
  • (5) Placement assistance and development of a service plan that can be sustained over time for students in need of ongoing services. (e) Funding may also be used to provide other prevention, early intervention, and direct services, including, but not limited to, hiring qualified mental health personnel, professional development for school staff on trauma-informed and evidence-based mental health practices, and other strategies that respond to the mental health needs of children and youth, as determined by the commission. (f) The commission shall determine the amount of grants and shall take into consideration the level of need and the number of schoolage youth in participating educational entities when determining grant amounts. (g) The commission may establish incentives to provide matching funds by awarding additional grant funds to partnerships that do so. (h) Partnerships currently receiving grants from the Investment in Mental Health Wellness Act of 2013 (Part 3.8 (commencing with Section 5848.5)) are eligible to receive a grant under this section for the expansion of services funded by that grant or for the inclusion of additional educational entity partners within the mental health partnership. (i) Grants awarded pursuant to this section may be used to supplement, but not supplant, existing financial and resource commitments of the county, city, or multi-county mental health or behavioral health departments, or a consortium of those entities, or educational entities that receive a grant. (j)
  • (1) The commission shall develop metrics and a system to measure and publicly report on the performance outcomes of services provided using the grants.
  • (2)
    • (A) The commission shall provide a status report to the fiscal and policy committees of the Legislature on the progress of implementation of this section no later than March 1, 2022. The report shall address, at a minimum, all of the following:
      • (i) Successful strategies.
      • (ii) Identified needs for additional services.
      • (iii) Lessons learned.
      • (iv) Numbers of, and demographic information for, the schoolage children and youth served.
      • (v) Available data on outcomes, including, but not limited to, linkages to ongoing services and success in meeting the goals identified in paragraph (3) of subdivision (c).
    • (B) A report to be submitted pursuant to this paragraph shall be submitted in compliance with Section 9795 of the Government Code. (k) This section does not require the use of funds included in the minimum funding obligation under Section 8 of Article XVI of the California Constitution for the partnerships established by this section. (l) The commission may enter into exclusive or nonexclusive contracts, or amend existing contracts, on a bid or negotiated basis in order to implement this section. Contracts entered into or amended pursuant to this subdivision are exempt from Chapter 6 (commencing with Section 14825) of Part 5.5 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code, Section 19130 of the Government Code, and Part 2 (commencing with Section 10100) of Division 2 of the Public Contract Code, and shall be exempt from the review or approval of any division of the Department of General Services. (m) This section shall be implemented only to the extent moneys are appropriated in the annual Budget Act or another statute for purposes of this section.
Policy Type