Social worker for each ESU vetoed

A proposal to place a social worker in each of the state’s 17 educational service units to aid students with behavioral and mental health problems was vetoed by Gov. Pete Ricketts April 23.

Introduced by Fremont Sen. Lynne Walz, LB998 created a fund for a collaborative school behavioral and mental health program. Once the initiative received $3.6 million, each ESU or the ESU coordinating council could have hired a social worker who would train teachers and school personnel and work with parents, schools and behavioral and mental health care providers to connect students with services.

Both public and private schools could have participated in the program, and the state Department of Education would have administered the fund. The program’s funding was limited to private donations, and the program would have ended in 2022.

LB998 passed 31-15 on April 18, the final day of the 2018 session.

In his veto message, the governor said LB998 is unnecessary because ESUs already may receive private donations to pay for behavioral and mental health care programs. He said the proposal does not coordinate with existing efforts by the state Department of Health and Human Services and fails to describe how parents and guardians would be involved in a student’s screening, referral and treatment.

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