Law expands access to early mental health consultation services to help young children avoid expulsion

The youngest Californians will have greater access to childhood mental health consultation services a moving forward as California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law AB 2698.

Authored by Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio, the law builds on a statute enacted in 2017 that bars state-subsidized preschool programs from expelling children until they first take actions to support the child and family. Nationally, children in preschool are expelled at more than three times the rate of students in grades K-12.

This new law increases avaliable funding for these sevices by raising the contract amount for preschool and child care programs that contract with early childhood mental health consultation services by 5 percent. Said Assemblywoman Rubio,

“As a former teacher, I believe that improving the services and tools to support early childhood education should be a top priority.”

Services to be provided under the law include:

  • Support to respond effectively to all children, with a focus on young children with disabilities, challenging behaviors, and other special needs.;
  • Assistance through individual site consultations, provision of resources, formulation of training plans, referrals, and other methods that address the unique needs of programs and providers;
  • Development of teachers’ skills needed to be successful as they support the development and early learning of all children, including observing environments, facilitating the development of action plans, and supporting site implementation of those plans;
  • Focus on strategies for addressing child mental health concerns.
  • Support with the development and documentation of reasonable steps to maintain the child’s safe participation in the school program.

Explaines Sarah Neville-Morgan, director of the Early Education and Support Division at the California Department of Education,

“Expulsion works against everything that is best practice for children, families and child care programs. This law creates the support system necessary to keep young children in preschool and child care facilities.”