Texas Senate Republican Caucus Clarifies SB10 Purposes and Provisions
The key objective of the bill is to provide early intervention to youth at risk of suicide, substance abuse, or harming themselves or others. We trust you would agree that this goal is consistent with ensuring the conservative Republican value of having strong families. The bill accomplishes this through establishing the Texas Mental Health Consortium.
The following is an outline of some key points of the bill that will hopefully address what may be some concerns.
- Written parental consent is required. Family Code 151.001 and Education Code sections 6.009 and 38.053 require the written consent of a child’s parents before conducting a psychological evaluation or delivering any type of physical or mental health care.
- Refusal does not provide grounds for CPS involvement. Section 26.0091 of the Education Code states that a school district employee may not use or threaten to use the refusal of a parent’s consent fo mental health services as the sole basis of making a report of neglect to Child Protective Services.
- Patient information will not be disseminated. Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) and the Texas Medical Records Privacy Act prohibit the dissemination of personally identifiable health information.
- School records are protected. Any school record other than directory information is considered confidential under the federal Family Education Rights & Privacy Act (20 USC Section 1232G; 34 CFR Part 99).
- Funding is not “undetermined.” There is $100M set aside for SB 10 in the introduced version of the Senate budget, and the Consortium must stay within its appropriation.
- School employees will not diagnose. Only trained professionals can make mental health diagnosis. That’s different from noticing something is wrong with a student. Districts have a responsibility to report behavioral issues to parents. Schools can make parents aware of these services, which can only be provided with written parental consent.
- Data shows less medication – not more. In states that have implemented similar initiatives, the data shows less use of mediation — likely because early intervention addresses conditions before they become severe.
In addition, an amendment by Senator Hughes made it crystal clear that written parental consent is required for any counseling or treatment under this bill:
Sec. 113. Consent Required for Services to Minor.
(a) A person may provide mental health care services to a child younger than 18 years of age through a program established under this chapter only if the person obtains the written consent of the parent, legal guardian, or caretaker of the child.
(b) the consortium shall develop and post on its Internet website a model form for a parent, legal guardian, or caretaker to provide consent under this section.
(c) This section does not apply to services provided by a school counselor in accordance with Section 33.005, 33.006, or 33.007, Education code.
Here is is noteworthy to show Texas Republican Party Platform plank 235, under Health and Human Services:
Mental Health: We request that the Texas Legislature provide appropriate funding for the improvement of mental health services for children and adolescents. This includes funding for training everyone who touches the life of a child in the foster care system in trauma and trauma-informed care.
The Senate has sent a clear message that they desire to comply with the State Party and majority of Republican Delegates who voted for passage of the Platform, including plank 235; to the extent of providing help for youth with mental health and substance abuse issues and addictions, but only with parental consent. The Legislative Budget Board report may be found here.