The House Committee on Youth Health and Safety interim report to the 88th Legislature covers federal/state/local youth programs, behavioral/mental health service systems, among others. For more information see the full report here.

Spotlight on Recommendations

Charge 1. Improving the ability of federal, state and local governmental entities to address the needs of Texas youth through, among other things, expanded coordination between all programs and systems that serve youth and their families, including child protective services, mental health services, educational institutions, and the juvenile justice system.

Charge 4. The expansion of prevention efforts and the strengthening of service systems to permit the behavioral health challenges faced by Texas youth to be addressed closer to their homes, including efforts and systems that permit youth to remain in their classrooms and stay out of institutionalized healthcare and juvenile justice systems.

  • Consider ways to expand mental health resources to schools and education service centers, including trauma-informed crisis teams;
  • Consider ways to allow schools to receive federal reimbursement for services provided to all medicaid-eligible students, not just those with an individual learning plan;
  • Consider additional mental and behavioral health services for youth and families who are at-risk;
  • Consider ways to strengthen parental consent in a child’s school-based mental health support and to ensure that parents are notified if their child is the subject of a threat assessment;
  • Consider workforce challenges related to providing mental health and wraparound services and opportunities to expand the pool of candidates, especially in rural areas;
  • Consider ways to expand outpatient treatment capacity for children at lower levels of need;

Charge 3. The impact of COVID-19 on the mental health needs of Texas youth and identification of effective treatment strategies.

  • Consider opportunities to actively promote the “988” mental health phone line, including effective strategies to inform youth;
  • Consider the role of school counselors, including ways to support the 80/20 counselor ratio (SB 179, 87th Legislature) and the roles and responsibilities assigned;
  • Consider permitting mental health visits as excused absences;
  • Consider opportunities to expand the TCHATT program;
  • Consider ways that schools can develop partnerships with faith-based organizations that provide additional resources for student needs;
  • Consider increasing access to specialized intervention, crisis intervention and continuum-of-care services

Charge 2. The allocation and use of state resources to preventative and rehabilitative services that address the primary challenges facing Texas youth placed in the juvenile justice system, including the redirection of those resources as necessary to ensure effectiveness and efficiency.

Charge 5. Programs, services and governmental action focused on the rehabilitation of youthful offenders, including considerations related to developmental factors that impact a youth’s entry into the justice system.

  • Consider ways to support regional-based approach to juvenile justice, including diversion programs;
  • Consider a stable funding source for early intervention programs provided at the county level;
  • Consider funding formulas that include the number of referrals to county juvenile justice departments;
  • Consider how to better support collaboration and coordination between all child and family-serving systems at the state, regional and local levels;
  • Continue reforms to Chapter 55 of the Texas Family Code for children with mental illness or mental disability;
  • Consider programs to smooth a juvenile’s re-entry to society, including opportunities for funding to allow older youth to complete a high school degree and transition to higher learning;
  • Consider the workforce challenges experienced in the juvenile justice field and opportunities for improve working conditions and compensation to broaden the field of job candidates

Special Topics

  • Social Media
  • Teenage Drug Use

The Committee also took up joint charges with the The Robb Elementary Shooting, Investigative Committee – more details can be found here.