Policy Updates

In addition to tracking and working on legislation, the California School-Based Health Alliance works closely with state and federal policymakers to advance legislation, administrative policies, and regulations that support school-based health services. Updates on policy changes that we are tracking and leading are included here.

Youth Advocates Speak Up for School Health

(April 2021) More than two dozen high school and university students from around the state gathered on April 29 for an afternoon of virtual advocacy visits with state policymakers. The advocacy outreach was organized by the members of our Youth Board as a way to raise awareness and support for school-based health centers. For many students it was their first experience engaging in advocacy with a policymaker!

Student advocates for school-based health met with legislative aides for 14 assemblymembers and state senators. Each virtual visit gave policymakers a chance to hear how many SBHCs are in California, how many SBHCs are in their district, and the services they provide. Students then shared how their SBHC has been a safe space and provided care and resources that have helped them and their fellow students thrive this year. We are grateful to our Youth Board and the youth participants from across the state for organizing and participating in our youth advocacy afternoon!

CSHA Co-Sponsors Two Bills

(March 2021) With partners, CSHA is excited to work to pass two important bills this session:

  • AB 563 (Berman): Office of School-Based Health. This bill would establish an Office of School-Based Health programs in the California Department of Education to provide leadership and assistance to school districts offering health programs through the public schools. Co-sponsors include: California School Boards Association, California School Nurses Organization, California Student Councils Association, California Teachers Association, and Teachers for Healthy Kids.
  • SB 316 (Eggman): Same-Day Billing. This bill would allow federally-qualified health centers (FQHCs) and rural health centers to receive Medi-Cal reimbursement for two visits that occur on the same day. Many school-based health centers are run by FQHCs and this bill would help sustain the clinical best practice of providing mental and physical health visits on the same day. Co-sponsors include: CaliforniaHealth+ Advocates and California Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems.

Student Mental Health a Focus of Proposed Budget

(January 2021) On January 8, Governor Newsom released his proposed state budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year, which launches a months-long negotiation with the legislature before finalizing the budget in June. The budget projects a much more positive budget year then previous estimates and includes some significant investments in student health and wellness: 

  • $264.9 million for Community Schools grants to expand existing and establish new community schools, with priority given to high-poverty schools. Learn how SBHCs are a foundational component of one school district’s full-service community schools. 
  • $400 million for an incentive program through Medi-Cal Managed Care Plans to build statewide capacity to increase the number of students receiving behavioral health services from schools, school-based providers, and school-based health centers.  
  • $50 million to expand School-County partnerships to increase school mental health services ($25 million in MHSA funds and $25 million directly for local education agencies). 

Other investments include: 

  • $2 billion in one-time grants to incentivize TK-6 in-person instruction by the spring. Read more about the Governor’s plan to reopen schools. 
  • $94.8 million to make permanent certain telehealth flexibilities.
  • A significant recognition of and funding to respond to the health inequities highlighted and exacerbated by the COVID pandemic.

Federal SBHC Reauthorization Update

(January 2021) The SBHC Reauthorization Act of 2020 was included in the COVID relief bill that Congress passed and the President signed in the last weeks of 2020. We want to thank many of you who advocated for HR 2075 in visits with Congressional members in 2019 and who signed onto letters, sent in videos, and contacted your congress members in support of reauthorization. Without you, this would not have been possible. We look forward to advocating with you, other state alliances, and the national alliance in the next year for federal funding that will go directly to SBHCs.

SBHA submits recommendations to Biden-Harris Transition Team

(January 2021) The National School-Based Health Alliance (SBHA), our partner in D.C., worked with other national partners to submit policy recommendations to the Biden-Harris Transition Team.  The recommendations advocate for policies that will move the country closer to the goal of school-based healthcare for all students from low income households. Read recommendations. 

Medi-Cal for Students Workgroup – Interim Report Released

(October 2020) CSHA is an active participant on a state workgroup working to provide recommendations to the California Department of Education and Department of Health Care Services on how Medi-Cal funds can be better leveraged to support school health services. The workgroup released an interim report in early October.

State Auditor’s Report on Youth Suicide Prevention

(October 2020) At the end of September, the California State Auditor released a scathing report on the status of youth suicide prevention in LEAs. The report recognizes the growing crisis of youth suicide and finds that LEAs do not have the resources and policies in place to address the crisis. Particularly, the report identifies the important role of SBHCs in providing behavioral health services to students.