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Child Health Notes: Small win for bill requiring mental health training for teachers

Modesto Bee - 6/22/2019

Jun. 22--Over the past week, health-related news has filled the Child Health Notebook. Here are a few important topics you might have missed. ...

On Wednesday, the California Assembly Education Committee passed SB 428 by a bipartisan vote (5-0). The bill would require a percentage of teachers and staff at each school to be trained in an evidence-based, Youth Mental Health First Aid program.

Teachers and school staff are often the first to become aware of a student's mental health needs, and the training would give them tools to help. In 2017, one in three high-schoolers reported depression and 17% had suicidal thoughts or attempts. The bill's goal is to provide actionable steps to address California's surging youth mental health crisis.

SB 428 is supported by a broad coalition led by Born This Way Foundation, California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies (CBHA), County Behavioral Health Directors Association, and Children Now.

"Our coalition came together in support of this bill because the mental well-being of students is critical to their ability to lead healthy lives, " said Le Ondra Clark Harvey, a spokesperson for the coalition and Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs for CBHA.

Harvey was a panelist at The Modesto Bee's California Priorities healthcare children's event held on June 13 in Modesto, where she discussed the urgent need for mental health services for children and teens.

The bill now moves to the Assembly Health Committee for review. For more info about SB 428, go visit

Kudos to Valley Children's: Valley Children's Healthcare is among the best children's hospital for the fourth year in a row, according to the latest rankings from U.S. News and World Report released last week. This is a record year for the healthcare system, with high ratings for five pediatric specialty services, including Diabetes & Endocrinology, Gastroenterology & Gastrointestinal (GI) Surgery, Neonatology, Orthopedics and Urology.

"These rankings are a testament to the highly specialized care that Valley Children's provides in an environment designed just for kids, delivered by physicians and staff who have devoted their lives to getting and keeping kids well," Valley Children's Healthcare President and CEO Todd Suntrapak said in a statement.

Valley Children's Healthcare network serves children throughout the Central Valley at several sites, including a 330-bed children's hospital in Madera and its new, multi-specialty outpatient facility in Modesto.

U.S. News and World Report has been reviewing children's hospitals since 2007 and rankings are based upon patient safety data, such as mortality and hospital-acquired infections, compliance with best practices and surveys from pediatricians.

Modesto High Student talks on Diabetes: Ashish Thakur, a 15-year-old incoming senior in Modesto High's International Baccalaureate program, presented his program called "Educate to Eliminate DM2" at an event at the Turlock Chamber of Commerce on Friday.

The program is available in English and Spanish and discusses tactics to prevent obesity and Type 2 Diabetes in kids. Thakur emphasized the importance of healthy lifestyles, including nutritious food and regular activity, at home and in school. In Stanislaus County, more than 40% of ninth graders are overweight or obese, increasing their risk for developing diabetes and lifelong health problems.

At the event, Thakur received recognition for community service from Assemblyman Adam Gray's office, Amy Bublak, Mayor of Turlock, and Brianna Nagle, a representative from Congressman Josh Harder's office.

Child neglect decrease in expanded Medicaid states: Researchers at Seattle Children's Research Institute found a decrease of 422 child neglect cases for every 100,000 reports in the 31 states and the District of Columbia that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, compared to states that didn't expand Medicaid. Child neglect broadly defined means a child not having his or her needs met for health, safety and well-being, and it is the most common type of child maltreatment.

The researchers reviewed state-level data reported by child protective services to the national database of child maltreatment. They discussed the importance of parental health and well-being as likely factors for lower rates of child neglect. MediCal, California's version of Medicaid, increased coverage to an additional 3.8 million Californians under the ACA expansion. Rates of substantiated child neglect reports also have decreased in California, though the reasons for the decline aren't clear.

This story was produced with financial support from The Stanislaus County Office of Education and the Stanislaus Community Foundation, along with the GroundTruth Project's Report for America initiative. The Modesto Bee maintains full editorial control of this work.


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