We had sincerely hoped for the passage of the Ortiz Bill in 2019 which guarantees every school age child in NYS access to a district employed, licensed, School Social Worker; but it did not happen. The Legislature continues to debate about how to make our schools safer without recognizing the need for adding preventative services. We did, however, get a Senate sponsor which is encouraging and we continue to advocate and work toward the passage of the bill.
School Counseling Amendments:
There have been many inquiries from members regarding the school counselor amendments. School Social Workers are expressing concerns that their districts may feel compelled to hire more school counselors as a result of these regulations. That is not the intent of the regulations.
The amendment makes the distinction between “program” and services. School Counselors are responsible for designing just the program which does not require that someone be on site full time in a particular school. The word “access” is key. “Each school district shall also ensure that all students in grades kindergarten through twelve have access to a certified school counselor(s)” (p. 28, (2))
We have discovered a document from the New York State Education Department (NYSED) dated November 10, 2016 that provides critical communication that not only included the Amendment to the Regulations (pp. 16-43) but also NYSED’s “Assessment of Public Comment” which provides the Department’s responses to 1000’s of inquiries regarding these amendments which should be very helpful to you in educating and providing clarification to administrators and districts. NYSSSWA Members can: Click Here to Read Important Details. (Proposed Amendment of Sections 52.21, 100.2(j) and Part 80 of the Commissioner’s Regulations relating to School Counseling, Certification Requirements for School Counselors and Program Registration Requirements for School Counseling Preparation Programs)
School Social Work Bill: February 12, 2018 Press Conference
On February 12, 2018 NY Assembly Assistant Speaker Félix W. Ortiz (D-Kings) and NY Senator Jesse Hamilton (D-Brooklyn) held a press conference with leaders of the New York State School Social Workers’ Association, as well as the National Association of Social Workers-New York State and New York City Chapters to introduce legislation, Bill A09533, that requires access to “at least one full-time licensed or certified school social worker to be employed in each elementary, intermediate, middle, junior high school and senior high school” in New York State.
Ortiz stated: “Certified social workers are the ‘gatekeepers’ for our youth, adolescents, and young adults’ education to help guide their future successes. Many of these students face problems that require professional help. Early intervention is the most effective way to prevent difficulties later in life.” Senator Hamilton noted: “Mental health, emotional health and wellness all matter to educating our children. A parent fearing eviction, violence at home or in the community, any number of circumstances can impact a child’s ability to learn. School social workers have the expertise to help children, help families, and help our communities address these needs.” See:
- Joint NYSSSWA & NASW Press Release
- Message from NYSSSWA’s President
- NYS Social Workers and Legislators Unite to Pass School Social Work Bill
- Interview with Assemblyman Félix Ortiz & Peg Barrett, NYSSSWA President
- Spanish Interview with Assemblyman Félix Ortiz & Evelyn Bautista Miller, Bilingual School Social Worker https://drive.google.com/open?
- Thank you letter from NY Assembly Assistant Speaker Félix W. Ortiz
Candida Brooks Harrison, NASW-NYC President Elect
Peg Barrett, NYSSSWA President
Evelyn Bautista Miller, NYSSSWA Member & Bilingual SSW
Samantha Howell, NASW-NY Executive Director
Assistant Speaker Assemblyman Félix Ortiz,
Hai-Ping Yeh, NYSSSWA Past President
Kelly Hannon Nichols, NYSSSWA Legislative Chair
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Grades 6-12 Health Classes to Teach Mental Health Awareness:
On October, 3rd 2017, the Governor signed a historic Bill A03887 requiring that all health classes 6-12 teach mental health in health education classes. John Richter, Director of Public Policy at MHANYS, commented that “we possess the knowledge and tools necessary to increase awareness in young people about mental health, how to recognize when someone’s in distress, or crisis, and how to get help.” Advocates and many experts believe that teaching the facts about mental health and openly discussing the issues with students will lessen the stigma surrounding mental illness.
In working with the Advisory Board group on how to roll out the legislation, we are aware that many, if not all, of the Health teachers around New York State are teaching some form of mental health instruction already. This legislation serves to offer a more uniform and concise standard for what should be taught and sets up a state-wide regional resource center for teachers which will offer curriculum lessons.
During instruction, teachers will need support with questions that may arise from students needing help or self-disclosing that they or a family member is coping with mental health issues. This legislation offers a unique opportunity for School Social Workers around the state to act as consultants to Health teachers and PPS Directors about curriculum programs. More importantly, as licensed, clinical mental health professionals in schools, we are in a position to provide assessment and direct services to students needing assistance within the school. We also have the clinical background and knowledge of community resources to assist with brokering and linking families to appropriate community services.
Peg Barrett, Board President, and Kelly Hannon Nichols, Legislative Committee Chair, have continued to represent NYSSSWA on the Advisory Board. In July, 2018 the New York State Education Department (NYSED) released Mental Health Education Literacy in Schools: Linking to a Continuum of Well Being Comprehensive Guide 2018 (80 pages)
School Social Workers are encouraged to become familiar with this legislation as well as NYSED’s Guide. Introduce yourselves to your Health teachers and let them know you will make yourself available if they need assistance. This is a unique partnership where we can present ourselves as critical members of the mental health team as well as increase our involvement and visibility to support and assist instructional staff, children and the school community.
AO1132: Sponsor, Rosenthal
SO00692: Sponsor, Ortt
Provides for the licensure of school psychologists; authorizes the use of the title “school psychologist” to licensed or exempt individuals; defines practice as a school psychologist; sets forth requirements for professional licensure (including educational attainment, experience, exam and fee); provides for issuance of limited permits under specified circumstances; identifies exempt persons.
A08114: Sponsor, Fahy
SP9074: Sponsor, Tedisco
Relates to an acting Jacobe’s law in relation to requiring school administrators to contact the parents or guardians of students when bullying or harassment has occurred. NYSSWA was active in helping to shape this bill allowing for professional judgment protecting students in certain incidences of harassment or bullying and discrimination when students do not express health safety or privacy concerns.
A03873: Sponsor, Nolan
S03036: Sponsor, Montgomery
Relates to school climate and codes of conduct on school property and resulting disciplinary action following violation of such codes of conduct. NYSSSWA supports restorative practices and had an active role on this legislation as well as worked to have individualized responses for students.
Legislative News Archives:
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