SECTION 1 Chapter 18C of the General Laws shall be amended by inserting the following new section 14A
Section 14A. (a) For the purposes of this section, the following term shall have the following meaning unless the context clearly requires otherwise:
“Trauma”, the result of an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.
Events that may potentially, but not necessarily, cause childhood trauma include, but are not limited to, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) such as (i) experiencing violence or abuse; (ii) witnessing violence in the home or community; (iii) having a close family member die or attempt or die by suicide or die by overdose; (iv) living with a close family member or caregiver with a substance use condition or having behavioral health needs; and (v) experiencing separation from a parent due to divorce, incarceration or child welfare intervention; as well as experiencing chronic stress caused by community-level adversity, including the effects of racism and discrimination.
“Protective Factors”, Experiences, circumstances, or relationships that can mitigate an adverse impact of trauma or promote resiliency.
(b) The office shall establish a screening subcommittee of the Childhood Trauma Task Force to:
1) review the benefits and risks of utilizing available tools, protocols, and best practices for (i) targeted or universal screening for childhood trauma for all children and (ii) for children upon entering foster care
2) review the benefits and risks of utilizing available tools, protocols, and best practices for conducting trauma assessments for children upon entering foster care
3) Make recommendations regarding the manner and circumstances under which trauma screening should and should not be used with children in the Commonwealth.
4) Make recommendations regarding the manner and circumstances under which trauma assessment should and should not be used with children entering foster care.
In conducting it’s review, the subcommittee shall consider evidence regarding the efficacy of existing screening tools, the purpose and goal of the tools use in supporting healthy child development. The review shall include (i) existing screening tools used in the MassHealth program, including, but not limited to, those outlined in the MassHealth All Provider Manual Appendix W - Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment Program Services Medical and Dental Protocols and Periodicity Schedules; (ii) other validated and reliable screening tools with empirical support for reliability, validity, standardization of norms, and specificity and sensitivity of measures; (iii) validated and reliable screening instruments that meet criteria set forth by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; and (iv) models in use in other States and make recommendations regarding whether it is appropriate and feasible to adopt, amend, or update existing tools for use in screening or assessing children including children in foster care.
In circumstances where trauma screening and assessment is recommended, the recommendations shall specify (i) the population of children to be screened (ii) the types of professionals who are appropriate to administer the particular trauma screen (iii) the training required to support authorized professionals in the sound and efficient administration of the screen; (iv) processes to ensure regular periodic review of protocols for screening; and (v) ways to ensure adequate reimbursement for providers responsible for screenings (vi) mechanisms for providing post screening assessment and intervention as appropriate.
(c) The subcommittee shall include the following members; the Child Advocate or their designee, the Commissioner of Mental Health or their designee, the Commissioner of the Department of Children and Families or their designee, the Commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education or their designee, the Commissioner of the Department of Public Health or their designee the assistant Secretary of MassHealth or their designee and the Commissioner of Insurance or their designee, a representative from the Office of Health Equity and a representative from each of the following organizations, The Foster Children Evaluation Services at UMass Medical Center, The Association for Behavioral Health, The New England Council of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the Children’s Mental Health Campaign, Boston Children’s Hospital Neighborhood Partnerships Program, MA Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, MA Association for Infant Mental Health, the Child Trauma Training Center, the MA Alliance for Families and the Child Witness to Violence Project at Boston Medical Center, Other Task Force members may participate in the subcommittee and The Child Advocate may appoint additional representatives from state agencies, community-based organizations and other child welfare or behavioral health experts as necessary to fulfill the purpose of the advisory working group.
The subcommittee shall consult with parents, youth and other experts and conduct public stakeholder meetings as necessary to ensuring that perspectives from a diverse set of individuals and organizations inform its work.
The subcommittee shall hold the first meeting not later than 30 days after the effective date of this Act, issue a status report not more than 6 months following the first meeting and a final report within 12 months. The report shall be filed with the Governor, the clerks of the senate and house or representatives, the joint committee on mental health, substance use and recovery, the joint committee on children families and persons with disabilities and the joint committee on health care financing.
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