Committee

Public Health and Welfare; Universities and Colleges

Author

Nicole Boyd and David Parker

Session

2024 Session

Amended by House; awaiting concurrence by Senate

Latest Action


On April 10, the House amended and passed SB 2727. The amendment to the bill makes additions to the composition and purposes of the Youth Mental Health Task Force.

The bill awaits concurrence by the Senate.

Explanation of the Bill


Mississippi Youth Mental Health Task Force

Senate Bill 2727 originally created the Mississippi Youth Mental Health Task Force. The scope of work for the task force is as follows:

  • Collect and analyze data related to the current state of student mental health in K-12, university, and college settings;
  • Explore the impact of trauma and mental health issues on student behavior, dropout and graduation rates, academic achievement, employment;
  • Evaluate the resources currently available to students to address mental health issues and the gaps in those resources; 
  • Review mental health training, professional development, and gaps in training provided to K-12, university, and college personnel for classroom management, identification, referral, intervention, and prevention of mental health issues; 
  • Evaluate successful strategies for addressing challenges in student mental health in Mississippi and across the nation; and
  • Review the workforce landscape to determine if there are sufficient personnel to address the mental health issues of students.

The House Universities and Colleges Committee amended SB 2727 to add an additional member to the task force from the Mississippi Youth Council and to expand the goals of the task force. The task force will now also explore the effects of multi-tiered wellness programs.

Early Intervention Task Force

On the Senate floor, two amendments were added to Senate Bill 2727, including a minor adjustment to the language of the bill and the addition of a new section to reconstitute the Early Intervention Task Force that was initially in Senate Bill 2329

The amendment to Senate Bill 2727 reconstitutes the Early Intervention Task Force, which will maintain its new advisory role to the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH), but the bill no longer amends Section 41-87-9 to require MSDH to prepare and deliver a plan for service delivery by December 1, 2024. 

Background on EI Taskforce

In 2023, Senate Bill 2167 was signed into law to create an Early Intervention Task Force to study the implementation of the state’s early intervention program, First Steps. First Steps is underfunded and decentralized, which prevents eligible children from participating in the program. 

The task force produced a report that, among other things, gave its tentative support to continuing to house the program at the MSDH, called for a new service delivery model, suggested the implementation of a new pay-and-chase billing model, and recommended expanding First Step’s eligibility criteria.  

Reconstituted Task Force

Senate Bill 2329 would reconstitute the 2023 Early Intervention Task Force with a notable shift in the role of the task force. The purpose of the task force is listed as serving in an advisory capacity to MSDH to assist the agency in implementing a new service delivery model for First Steps (Part C of IDEA). However, in the next sentence, the bill states the goal of the task force is simply to collaborate with MSDH to “design a new service delivery model and make changes to the Early Intervention Program [emphasis added].” Later, the bill also states the committee will be dissolved after providing recommendations, so it is unclear how it would then also assist MSDH in implementation. 

The new task force will add two key members, the Executive Director of the Division of Medicaid or their designee, and the Executive Director of the Office of Early Childhood at the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) or their designee.

The scope of work for the new task force is as follows:

  • Review the billing and reimbursement processes and rates and provide the legislature with a recommendation by January 1, 2025;
  • Evaluate early intervention service delivery models, including a hub or hybrid model that involves university participation and provide a recommendation to the legislature about a more effective service delivery model; and
  • Develop and report its findings and recommendations for legislation in response to MSDH’s proposal to change the service delivery model and billing and reimbursement processes.

Since the report by the task force must respond to MSDH’s proposal (see below), and the task force must also collaborate with MSDH on this scope of work, the exact timing and process is somewhat unclear.

DateDetails
2/19/24On February 19, SB 2727 was referred to the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee and the Senate Universities and Colleges Committee.
3/4/24On March 4, the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee passed SB 2727 and transmitted the bill to the Senate Universities and Colleges Committee.
3/5/24On March 5, the Senate Universities and Colleges Committee passed SB 2727.
3/14/24On March 14, the Senate passed SB 2727 and amended the bill on the Senate floor.
3/19/24On March 19, SB 2727 was referred to the House Public Health and Human Services Committee and the House Universities and Colleges Committee.
3/26/24On March 26, SB 2727 passed the House Public Health and Human Services Committee and was transferred to the House Universities and Colleges Committee.
4/1/24On April 1, SB 2727 passed the House Universities and Colleges Committee with an amendment.
4/10/24On April 10, the House amended and passed SB 2727. The amendment to the bill makes additions to the composition and purposes of the Youth Mental Health Task Force.