Alki Representatives Mike Uehara-Bingen (PTA President) and Davina Dilley (Advocacy Chair) are presenting their proposed new Legislative Issue, Increase Access to Nursing, Mental Health, and Social Emotional Learning Staff during the Caucusing event today as part of this year’s Washington State PTA Legislative Assembly. They will be showing the following 5 minute video:
During the annual Washington State PTA (WSPTA) Legislative Assembly, delegates decide the public policy positions that guide state and local advocacy work for WSPTA and its associated local PTAs and councils. There are eight new proposed legislative issues for consideration, including one that Alki PTA has submitted. By the end of Legislative Assembly, five legislative priorities will be chosen, based on the discussions and the votes that take place throughout. The WSPTA Advocacy Committee commits to those five priorities for the two-year legislative cycle, lobbying State Senators and Representatives to get bills passed which align with those priorities.
Alki PTA’s Proposed New Legislative Issue #2: Increase Access to Nursing, Mental Health, and Social Emotional Learning Staff
Washington State PTA shall support legislation or policies that support the medical and mental health of all students P-12 with innovative funding solutions for increased non-teaching staff including but not limited to nurses, counselors, psychologists, and social workers in schools, provided in-person or according to the best practices in telehealth access.
Persuasive Statement from the Alki PTA: Washington state urgently needs to address the insufficient funding for mental health, nursing, and social emotional learning staff in our schools. The recommended ratio for school nurses is one for every 750 students, but state funding only allows for a ratio of one to every 5,200 students. This leaves districts and PTAs to bridge the gap, causing significant inequities across our state.
We rely on school health professionals to care for our children through everyday bumps and bruises. We also rely on them for students who need regular medical attention, many of whom have to travel outside of their neighborhood to attend schools that have a full-time nurse. School health professionals are key in early detection of child abuse and suicidal behavior, the rates of which have been on the rise among our youth for several years. Every student deserves access to these services, and we are not meeting those needs.
The COVID-19 crisis has only further illustrated the urgency of this issue. We rely on school nurses to implement public health guidelines to keep our children safe and healthy. In this time of extreme transition, those guidelines are evolving, and so consistent nursing staff is paramount. This also means that social emotional learning staff, such as school counselors, psychologists, and social workers are crucial in meeting the evolving mental health needs of all students.
View all of the 2020 Proposed Legislative Principles, Issues, and Resolutions for consideration here.