The bill creates the "Colorado K-5 Social and Emotional Health Act" (act). The act requires the department of education (department) to select a pilot school district (pilot district) to participate in a pilot program that ensures that a school social worker, as defined in the act, is dedicated to each of grades kindergarten through fifth grade. To the extent possible, the school social worker shall follow the same students through each grade. The general assembly shall appropriate the resources necessary for the pilot district to hire or contract with the additional school social workers.
The department shall select a pilot district that meets the characteristics outlined in the bill, including high poverty, ethnic diversity, and a large concentration of students in the foster care system.
Among other responsibilities consistent with the school social worker license, the school social worker shall provide needed services to students and their families in the pilot district, including identifying learning disabilities, conducting functional behavior assessments and developing behavior intervention plans, identifying food insecurities, and helping eligible students and their families access public benefits. Services must be provided at school and during school hours, as appropriate.
The pilot program begins operation during the 2020-21 school year and repeals in July 2027. The department shall contract with a professional program evaluator (evaluator) to conduct a preliminary evaluation in 2024 and a final evaluation before the repeal of the pilot program. The evaluator shall establish the method for the pilot district's data collection and monitor data throughout the pilot program.
The evaluator shall evaluate the effectiveness of services provided by the pilot program on the academic, mental, and physical health and well-being of the student cohorts within the scope of the pilot program.
The bill requires the department to request money for pilot program administration, employment contracts for social workers, and the pilot program evaluation through the annual budget process.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as introduced.)