Parkland Father continues to fight for better mental health care in Florida schools – Action News Jax

Parents who lost their children in the Parkland Shooting continue their efforts to make Florida schools safer and this year they are pushing for legislation that would increase mental health reporting and awareness in schools.

Last year, the state appropriated $120 million in mental health schools.

This year, legislation passed by families of Parkland victims would ensure that parents know what services are available.

On February 14, 2018, Tony Montalto got the news every parent fears.

His daughter Gina was murdered by a school shooter along with 16 other students and staff.

“That day, my kind, compassionate, smart, and bubbly 14-year-old daughter was shot dead in the hallway outside her classroom,” said Montalto, who testified before the House Early Learning & Elementary Education Subcommittee Thursday morning.

Tony has been a passionate advocate for improving school safety since the shooting, hoping to ensure that a tragedy like the one that killed his daughters would never happen again.

This year he is promoting legislation to ensure that the available resources are actually used.

“HB 899 looks at the other individuals in a student’s household and makes sure they are made aware of other behavioral services they may be eligible for,” Montalto told the committee.

The legislation passed the first committee with unanimous support.

Then we spoke one on one with Tony.

He said the problem at the moment is that while students are being made aware of the services their schools offer, parents are often unaware.

“We need to look not only at our students who are struggling, but also at their environment and try to improve it as much as possible,” says Montalto.

Tony said that not only would parents and guardians be notified of the services available to their students, but they would also be linked with other services available in the community.

“You know, let’s assume we see a kid who is doing poorly in school and they bring in their family and it seems like family life is in trouble because the parent or guardian is an alcoholic. Well, why not tell them about services they qualify for in the community so they can help themselves too,” Montalto said.

We contacted DCPS and asked if they ensure that parents are informed about mental health care for their students.

We were told the information is publicly available.

“Full Service Schools information is published in a variety of ways, including by the individual schools, the Duval County Public Schools Behavioral Health Facebook page, Parent Academy, various community and student leadership organizations,” DCPS spokesperson Sonya Duke-Bolden said in a statement. statement by email.

The legislation would also require charter schools to meet mental health reporting requirements already imposed on public schools.

It also requires the Department of Education to share Baker Act data with the Department of Children and Families and establish timetables for when a student should receive mental health treatment after being referred.

Tony told us that this legislation is not the end of his fight to improve safety, he believes its adoption would be another step in the right direction.

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