NYASP Lobby Day Talking Points
Children's Mental Health Needs –
Studies over the past few years have identified significant shortages in mental health services for children:
The Greater Rochester Health Foundation Crisis in Care Report, 2016, identifies significant mental health needs within the Finger Lakes region and a lack of services to support these needs.
The Final Report of the Youth Mental Health Task Force released in March 2017 outlines a lack of availability of mental health services in Central New York.
The NYS School Boards Association has recognized the crisis in mental health care and recently organized a summit on the growing mental health crisis in schools in cooperation with the Mental Health Association in New York State (MHANYS)
Data indicates the mental health crisis is ongoing and current services are not meeting the level of need in the community.
20% of children are diagnosed with a mental health disorder severe enough to interfere with their daily life functioning.
75%-80% of these children do not receive the appropriate mental health services to address these problems.
There are 12 counties in NYS where there are 5 or fewer licensed psychologists, and these psychologists may not provide treatment to children.
When children do get help for mental health problems, the majority of services are provided by school psychologists.
Mental health problems impact a child’s ability to function in school, including academic achievement, performance on standardized testing, and social interactions with others.
School Psychological Services -
School psychologists provide services to ALL children through Multi-Tiered Systems of Support.
Over 400,000 school age children (ages 5-21) receive services through special education programs due to educational disabilities.
Mental and behavioral wellness is directly linked to overall positive student achievement, school climate, high school graduation rates, and the prevention of risky behaviors, disciplinary incidents, and substance abuse.
School Psychologists and Preschool Services -
Over 40,000 preschool age children (ages 3-5) receive services in 4410 programs due to educational disabilities.
There have been recent threats to school psychologists’ ability to service preschool children through the Multidiscipline Evaluation process, which would impede the child’s ability to access services.
The 4410/Preschool system cannot function without the involvement of school psychologists. There are not enough licensed psychologists in NY who are willing or available to meet the needs of the preschool system.
Bills passed last year in the Assembly (A9918) and in the Senate (S7641) provide an extension for school psychologists to continue working in "center-based" preschool or 4410 programs, as well as in preschool agencies. This temporary exemption ends on June 30, 2020.
School psychologists currently work outside of the school setting providing EI services to children.
Licensure of school psychologists via A1182/S4340 would permanently remedy the preschool issue.
Licensure of School Psychologists -
School psychologists are highly trained experts in child development, learning, and psychological factors that impact functioning in educational settings.
The training and experiences of school psychologists is equal to or surpasses all of the current non-doctoral licensed mental health professions in NYS.
Licensure of school psychologists will benefit children, families, and school districts across NYS.
NYS Bill A1182/S4340 provides for licensure of school psychologists to practice school psychology, regardless of the setting.
The scope of practice for school psychologists defined in the bill allows the licensed school psychologist to engage in the professional activities with individuals from birth to age 21:
The scope of practice for licensed school psychologists is NOT the same as licensed psychologists. Licensed psychologists have a broader scope of practice with fewer limitations on area of practice.
School Safety –
The concept of school safety is complex and encompasses both physical aspects as well as social-emotional factors.
While security guards and metal detectors may provide safety from a physical perspective, social-emotional supports encompass factors such as school climate and availability of trained, school-based mental health providers.
The availability of school psychologists – at appropriate student to provider ratios – not only provides responsive intervention services to students in need, but also preventive services to students who are at-risk.
Mental health services are a critical component of school safety, as school psychologists can intervene prior to students becoming disenfranchised in the school environment.
For children and adolescents suffering with mental health issues, a comprehensive delivery model of mental health supports both in school and the community is imperative.
"Take Away Message"
NYSED has indicated that a “legislative solution” was necessary to resolve issues related to the use of school psychologists in the preschool system.
Licensure of school psychologists is a comprehensive approach to addressing the mental health crisis affecting children AND the provision of services at the preschool level.
Any proposed solution short of licensure which would "clarify " existing language unnecessarily further complicates the issue - licensure is the singularly appropriate response to the problem which was actually created by layer after layer of exemptions after exemptions. Only licensure provides the pathway to reclaiming hundreds of millions of lost Medicaid dollars, recognizes school psychologists as appropriately qualified evaluators of preschool special education students and qualified professionals under the early intervention system, as well as needed providers of mental health services in the community.