Student mental health prioritized
This year, the youth mental health crisis received much-needed attention. Policymakers prioritized the issue responding to the pandemic’s exacerbation of depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation rates amongst youth. A leading proponent on this issue was Senator Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge), whose own family has been affected by suicide. The Senator authored companion bills related to youth mental health, both of which were signed by the Governor. SB 14, an urgency measure that took effect upon the Governor’s signature on October 8, adds “for the benefit of the pupil’s mental or behavioral health” to the list of categories of excused absences for purposes of school attendance. SB 14 also requires the California Department of Education (CDE), by January 1, 2023, to recommend best practices and identify evidence-based training programs for schools to address youth behavioral health. The language that would have required LEAs to train their staff utilizing these programs was removed from the bill late in the legislative process due to associated costs.
Governor Newsom also signed Senator Portantino’s SB 224, which requires districts, county offices of education (COEs), and charter schools that provide health instruction to students in middle or high school to include instruction in mental health. The bill outlines the various requirements of this instruction and states that materials used must be appropriate for all races, genders, sexual orientations, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, pupils with disabilities, and English learners. SB 224 also requires that, by January 1, 2024, the CDE develop a plan for expanding mental health instruction in California public schools.
Free menstrual products to be required at more public schools
AB 367, a measure that received national attention and was authored by Assembly Member Cristina Garcia (D-Downey), will require all public schools maintaining any combination of grades 6 to 12 to maintain an adequate supply of free menstrual products in all their women’s and all-gender restrooms, and at least one men’s restroom. Named “The Menstrual Equity for All Act of 2021,” AB 367 also requires schools to post a notice regarding the bill’s requirements in every restroom required to stock products. The provisions of AB 367 must be complied with on or before the start of the 2022-23 school year. AB 367 builds upon earlier legislation authored by Assembly Member Garcia that applied to Title I eligible schools serving the same grades. These measures are part of a broader effort by the Assembly Member to improve access to safe menstrual products. Since 2016, Assembly Member Garcia has introduced multiple legislative measures attempting to exempt menstrual products from sales taxes. These measures have stalled due to their impact on state revenues.
Budget lays groundwork for shift to universal school meals as early as 2022-23
Building on legislation over the past few years aimed at removing the stigma around school meals and increasing student access to nutritious meals, AB 130, the K-12 Education Omnibus Trailer Bill, included language providing that, beginning with the 2022-23 school year, all schools will be required to provide two free nutritiously adequate meals to every student who requests one, regardless of whether they are eligible for a free-and-reduced price meal. However, the bill also made this requirement contingent on funding being appropriated in the budget for this purpose, meaning that no school will be required to comply with this requirement until the state provides funding to address the increased cost. Once funded, the state will reimburse a local educational agency (LEA) for “all non-reimbursed expenses accrued in providing United States Department of Agriculture reimbursable meals to students.” In order to be eligible for this additional reimbursement, an LEA must participate in the National School Lunch Program and the National School Breakfast Program, but the requirement to provide two free meals still applies to schools that do not participate in either federal meal program. According to the Legislature, this shift to universal meals is estimated to cost the state $650 million annually.
In an effort to ensure schools are drawing down as much federal school meal funding as possible, and therefore reducing the cost to the state of implementing universal meals, AB 130 also requires any school district or county superintendent of schools that has a high-poverty school in its jurisdiction to apply to operate a universal meal service provision, like Community Eligibility Provision or Provision 2, on or before June 30, 2022. Unlike the requirement to provide two free meals, superintendents must comply with this requirement even if funding is not provided for universal meals in next year’s budget.
The push to transition to universal school meals on the state level was led by the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee, Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), who also ran stand-alone legislation on this issue this year. SB 364, among other things, would have also required the state to shift to universal meals in the 2022-23 school year but Senator Skinner decided to hold the bill after it was clear the universal meals language would be included in the budget.
The Governor signed the following student services bills
- AB 1009 (Bloom) – Farm to Community Food Hub Program.
AB 1009 establishes the Farm to Community Food Hub Program, to be administered by the Office of Farm to Fork within the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). The program is to provide incentives to schools and other institutions to purchase local, environmentally sustainable, climate-adaptation friendly, and equitably produced food. CDFA is to consult with outside entities with specified expertise and the Secretary of CDFA is required to establish the Farm to Community Food Hub Advisory Committee for the purpose of advising the secretary on education, outreach, and technical assistance for the program.
Chapter 608, Statutes of 2021
- ACR 38 (Rubio, Blanca) – School Breakfast Week.
ACR 38 proclaimed March 8, 2021, to March 12, 2021, as School Breakfast Week, recognizing the importance of school nutrition programs and school nutrition staff in addressing the needs of the state’s pupils.
Chapter 18, Statutes of 2021
- SB 609 (Hurtado) – CalFresh.
Under current federal law, students who are enrolled in college or other institutions of higher education at least half time are not eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits unless they meet one of several specified exemptions. SB 609 requires the California Department of Social Services (CDSS), upon an appropriation by the Legislature, and to the extent permitted by federal law, to include adult education and career technical education programs in the list of programs that are deemed to meet the standard for student eligibility for SNAP.
Chapter 606, Statutes of 2021
- SCR 33 (Archuleta) – Food Allergy Awareness Week.
SCR 33 declares the week of May 10 to May 16, 2021, as Food Allergy Awareness Week and requests that the Governor issue a proclamation calling on the people of California to observe the week with appropriate understanding and awareness of food allergies and anaphylaxis.
Chapter 68, Statutes of 2021
- AB 27 (Rivas, Luz) – Homeless children and youths and unaccompanied youths: reporting.
AB 27 requires local educational agencies (LEAs) to annually administer a housing questionnaire to ensure students who may be homeless or unaccompanied are identified. LEAs must also report their number of homeless students annually to CDE. In addition, the bill authorizes CDE, subject to an appropriation, to allocate $1,500,000 to up to three COEs in different regions throughout the state for purposes of establishing technical assistance centers to foster relationships between community partners and LEAs in each region. As AB 27 is an urgency measure, it took effect immediately upon the Governor’s signature.
Chapter 394, Statutes of 2021
- AB 829 (Levine) – Foster children: immigration counsel and guardianship.
This bill requires a county to make its best efforts to provide undocumented minors and nonminor dependents in foster care under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court with access to immigration legal services. AB 829 also requires counties to submit reports to the CDSS on their respective process of identifying and meeting the needs of undocumented youth in their county.
Chapter 528, Statutes of 2021
- SB 354 (Skinner) – Public social services.
Current law authorizes a child who has been removed from their parent or guardian to be placed with a relative or nonrelative extended family member if the relative or nonrelative extended family member is either an approved resource family or has been assessed and has not been convicted of a crime for which a criminal record exemption cannot be or has not been granted. SB 354 authorizes the court to order placement, regardless of the status of any criminal exemption or resource family approval, if the court finds that the placement does not pose a risk to the health and safety of the child.
Chapter 687, Statutes of 2021
- SB 400 (Jones) – Homeless children and youths: local educational agencies: collaboration, training, and reporting.
Pursuant to federal law, SB 400 requires a liaison for homeless children and youths of an LEA, defined here to include a school district, COE, charter school, or special education local plan area, to ensure the identification of homeless students through outreach and coordination activities with other organizations and the referral of services to homeless families and homeless children and youth. In addition, SB 400 also requires CDE to develop and implement procedures for verification and review of information submitted by LEAs to demonstrate compliance with the law.
Chapter 400, Statutes of 2021
- SB 512 (Min) – Public postsecondary education: support services for foster youth: Cooperating Agencies Foster Youth Educational Support Program.
SB 512 expands eligibility for priority enrollment for current and former foster youth at the University of California, California State University, and California Community Colleges (CCC). The bill also expands eligibility for a student support program, the Cooperating Agencies Foster Youth Educational Support (CAFYES) program (otherwise known as the NextUP program) for current and former foster youth at CCCs.
Chapter 574, Statutes of 2021
- SCR 57 (Hurtado) – Runaway and Homeless Youth Prevention Month.
This resolution designates November 2021 as Runaway and Homeless Youth Prevention Month, recognizing the need for individuals, schools, communities, businesses, local governments, and the state to take action on behalf of runaway and homeless youth in California.
Chapter 145, Statutes of 2021
- AB 309 (Gabriel) – Pupil mental health: model referral protocols.
This bill requires the CDE to develop model referral protocols for addressing pupil mental health concerns. The bill also requires CDE to consult with various entities in developing the protocols, including current classroom teachers, administrators, pupils, and parents. The bill makes these provisions contingent upon funds being appropriated for its purpose.
Chapter 662, Statutes of 2021
- AB 638 (Quirk-Silva) – Mental Health Services Act: early intervention and prevention programs.
The Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) requires counties to establish a program designed to prevent mental illnesses from becoming severe and disabling and authorizes counties to use funds designated for prevention and early intervention to broaden the provision of those community-based mental health services by adding prevention and early intervention services or activities. This bill amends the MHSA by including in the prevention and early intervention services authorized to be provided, prevention and early intervention strategies that address mental health needs, substance misuse or substance use disorders, or needs relating to cooccurring mental health and substance use services.
Chapter 584, Statutes of 2021
- ACR 68 (O’Donnell) – Student Mental Health Week.
This measure declared the week of May 10, 2021, to May 14, 2021, as Student Mental Health Week.
Chapter 73, Statutes of 2021
- SB 14 (Portantino) – Pupil health: school employee and pupil training: excused absences: youth mental and behavioral health.
This bill includes, within the meaning of an absence from school due to a pupil’s illness, an absence for the benefit of the pupil’s mental or behavioral health.
Chapter 672, Statutes of 2021
- SB 224 (Portantino) – Pupil instruction: mental health education.
This bill requires each school district, COE, state special school, and charter school that offers one or more courses in health education to pupils in middle school or high school to include in those courses instruction in mental health. The bill requires that instruction to include, among other things, reasonably designed instruction on the overarching themes and core principles of mental health, and requires that instruction and related materials to, among other things, be appropriate for use with pupils of all races, genders, sexual orientations, and ethnic and cultural backgrounds, pupils with disabilities, and English learners.
Chapter 675, Statutes of 2021
- SB 465 (Eggman) – Mental health.
The MHSA, an initiative measure enacted by the voters as Proposition 63 at the November 2, 2004, statewide general election, establishes the continuously appropriated Mental Health Services Fund to fund various county mental health programs and establishes the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission to oversee the administration of various parts of the act. This bill requires the commission to report to specified legislative committees the outcomes for people receiving community mental health services under a full-service partnership model, including any barriers to receiving the data and recommendations to strengthen California’s use of full-service partnerships to reduce incarceration, hospitalization, and homelessness.
Chapter 544, Statutes of 2021
- AB 367 (C. Garcia) – Menstrual products.
AB 367 requires all public schools serving students in grades 6 to 12 to stock women’s and all-gender restrooms, and at least one men’s restroom with an adequate supply of free menstrual products, commencing in the 2022-23 school year. The measure also requires schools to post a notice regarding the bill’s requirements in every specified restroom.
Chapter 664, Statutes of 2021
- AB 856 (Maienschein) – Pupil health: COVID-19 Youth Health Information Act.
AB 856 establishes the COVID-19 Youth Health Information Act and requires the CDE to post information on its website information related to the safe return of pupils to exercise and physical activity after testing positive for COVID-19. This act contained an urgency clause and took effect upon the Governor’s signature on July 23, 2021.
Chapter 123, Statutes of 2021
- SB 97 (Roth) – Pupil health: type 1 diabetes information: parent notification.
SB 97 requires the CDE to develop type 1 diabetes informational materials and requires LEAs to make those informational materials accessible to the parents and guardians of pupils upon first enrollment in elementary school on and after January 1, 2023.
Chapter 674, Statutes of 2021
- AB 46 (Rivas, Luz) – California Youth Empowerment Act.
AB 46 creates the California Youth Empowerment Act to address, among other issues, the growing need to engage youth directly with policymakers. The bill establishes the California Youth Empowerment Commission in state government for the main purpose of providing meaningful opportunities for civic engagement to improve the quality of life for California’s disconnected and disadvantaged youth.
Chapter 46, Statutes of 2021
- AB 104 (Gonzalez, Lorena) – Pupil instruction: retention, grade changes, and exemptions.
AB 104, an urgency measure which took effect July 1, (1) requires LEAs, upon receiving a request, to offer the parent a consultation regarding whether a pupil should be retained; (2) creates a process for parents to request that students receive a “pass” or “no pass” instead of a letter grade in the 2020-21 academic year; and (3) requires that students who were in their third or fourth year of high school in 2020-21 and who are not on track to graduate be exempted from local graduation requirements.
Chapter 41, Statutes of 2021
- AB 506 (Gonzalez, Lorena) – Youth service organizations: child abuse and neglect prevention.
Requires an administrator, employee, or “regular volunteer” of a youth service organization to complete child abuse and neglect identification training and to undergo a background check.
Chapter 169, Statutes of 2021
- AB 1031 (Villapudua) – State agencies: interns and student assistants: hiring preference.
AB 1031 adds “victims of human trafficking” to the list of youth who are to be given preference by state agencies when hiring for internships and student assistant positions.
Chapter 204, Statutes of 2021
- SB 363 (Leyva) – Educational equity: government instruction conferences.
This bill, commencing January 1, 2023, exempts from the Sex Equity in Education Act’s sex discrimination provisions any gender-segregated programs or activities of the American Legion or the American Legion Auxiliary related to their respective yearly Girls State and Boys State conferences. Further, the bill applies those provisions to any promotion of, or selection of pupils for, any of those conferences by secondary educational institutions if the conferences comply with certain conditions, including providing substantially similar access to government officials and facilities, providing substantially similar programming, providing an equal number of participation opportunities, and, for pupils who do not identify as either male or female, or with their assigned birth gender, allowing those pupils to participate in either conference.
Chapter 676, Statutes of 2021
- SB 722 (Melendez) – Pupil safety: swimming pools: adult presence: cardiopulmonary resuscitation training.
SB 722 requires a school district or charter school if it elects to host or sponsor an event that is in or around a swimming pool, to have at least one adult with a valid certification of cardiopulmonary resuscitation training to be present throughout the duration of the event.
Chapter 679, Statutes of 2021
- Posted by CCIS
- On November 11, 2021