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Bonta Bill Boosts School-Based Care for Youth Impacted by Trauma

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(Oakland, CA) – California students affected by traumatic events or violence in their communities may soon have greater access to important mental health services as AB 174, authored by Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), passed the Assembly Committee on Health today.

Across California, many of the children and youth who are most impacted by traumatic events – including shootings and gang violence -- cannot access the mental health care they need. Children and youth living in low-income neighborhoods, as well as children and youth of color, are disproportionately impacted by trauma, including gun violence, according to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.

"All forms of violence, including gun violence, have become a tragic fact of life for children in the 18th Assembly District. For example, Oakland suffered from 131 homicides in 2012. Many children are faced with serious traumatic complications from growing up in a violent environment, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, which among other things, make it difficult to become an engaged and productive student at school," explained Assemblymember Bonta.

"This is a problem we need to attack from all angles. We have a responsibility to protect our students and ensure they are receiving the proper services for recovery. AB 174 helps create that pathway to recovery by establishing a grant program for organizations providing focused trauma services to students," said Assemblymember Bonta.

AB 174 would expand student access to trauma-informed mental health services through school-based health centers (SBHCs), where care is accessible, affordable, and youth-friendly. SBHCs put medical, mental health, and, in some instances, dental care on school grounds across the state. They are a proven model for delivering effective mental health services: Not only can school-based mental health care reduce both depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, but SBHCs are significantly better than other care settings at reaching adolescents.

Currently, there is no state funding explicitly directed to either SBHCs or school-based programs focused on mental health and trauma. If approved, AB 174 would create a program for a variety of essential school-based mental health services, including individual, group, and family counseling; youth development programming focused on preventing and addressing violence; school-wide violence prevention programs; and support for teachers and other school staff in identifying and responding to students' trauma-related needs.

Contact: Amy Alley (916) 319-2018

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