Chapter 19 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2018 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after section 25 the following section: -
Section 26. (a) There shall be, jointly developed between the Department of Mental Health and a community-based organization specializing in peer-led support groups, a COVID-19 Mental Health Pilot Program to provide trauma-informed peer-led support groups to those parents affected adversely by the mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
(b) Pursuant to this act and subject to funding from COVID relief or other funds there shall be at least three programs established within school districts, across not less than three counties in the commonwealth. Pilot programs shall be established based on indicators related to the devastation that COVID-19 has had on the students in those districts, including but not limited to: high concentration of COVID-19 cases, high concentration of poverty, high rates of COVID-related unemployment, high concentrations of people of color, and other indicators.
(c) Each program shall be operated by a community-based organization specializing in peer-led support groups in partnership with the school district, and shall be staffed by the department as needed to provide appropriate care, with program protocols and a staffing plan to be developed during the first three months following passage of this legislation.
(d) The commissioner shall issue a request for proposal for qualified organizations to submit proposals to become the provider of trauma-informed peer-led support groups provided that proposals must be submitted and organizations selected within three months following passage of this legislation.
(e) The COVID-19 Mental Health Pilot Program shall exist until its mission is deemed complete during the COVID-19 pandemic recovery period as determined jointly by the commissioner of the department of mental health or their designee and the commissioner of the department of public health or their designee, or not more than three years after the governor’s state of emergency declaration is lifted, whichever is sooner.
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