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A proposal that aims to improve childhood mental health services, which includes steps to roll out mental health screenings for students, heads to Gov. JB Pritzker after being approved Thursday by the Illinois House.

Provisions of the plan from Rep. Lindsey LaPointe, D-Chicago, would flesh out existing law that requires the Department of Healthcare and Family Services to identify leading indicators for when a child is at an elevated behavioral health crisis risk.

The bill would create a workgroup with HFS, Medicaid managed care organizations and other stakeholders to determine what data to use to determine lead indicators. The workgroup would have to make its recommendations for leading indicator data elements by September, with that information to be used to ensure MCOs provide services and interventions to help children.

The bill would also task the State Board of Education to work with sister agencies and stakeholders to develop a readiness assessment for universal mental health screening of students, including a framework to support districts in a phased approach. The report would be due this fall, with a plan for a phased approach to be ready by next April.

The proposal drew lengthy debate from Republicans, who said they were concerned about parental rights if their child is screened and who would receive the results.

“Parents should be the first person to know what kind of results, if any, come out of any type of universal health screening done to a child in school,” said Rep. Tom Weber, R-Lake Villa.

Other GOP lawmakers, like Rep. Bill Hauter, R-Morton, were concerned about whether school districts could opt out of the services.

LaPointe repeatedly told colleagues that the assessment would look into issues like parental notification and school opt-outs.

“I also really, really hope that people on your side of the aisle are engaging in conversations with our chief children’s behavioral health officer and with our Children’s Behavioral Health Transformation Initiative,” she said.

Some Republicans, like Rep. Ryan Spain, R-Peoria, called the proposal an important step for all sides to collaborate and address children’s mental health.

“We all have to recognize that our kids today are undergoing tremendous challenges, whether it’s bullying, cyber issues, social media and depression,” Spain said.