IL launches compulsory mental health screening
for children and pregnant women
This week, a series of public forums on a program requiring all
pregnant women and children through age 18 years to be tested for
mental health needs is being held this week in five different
One group of parents learned about the state's plans to proceed
with this program and on Monday issued an alarm asking for parents
and citizens concerned about the new program to voice their opinions
at the forums.
"We're moving toward social training over academic training with
this program," Larry Trainor, a Mt. Prospect parent of four
children and a contact for Citizens Commission on Human
Rights, based in Los Angeles, said today.
"Since psychiatric involvement in education, SAT scores have gone
down for the past few decades. Evaluating mental conditions is not
based on scientific evidence, it's subjective," he said.
The $10 million plan for the setup of the Children's Mental
Health Act of 2003 is being considered at this week's public
forums starting Monday, July 18 in Champaign.
Signed into law, the bill passed the Illinois General Assembly
last spring, sponsored in the House by State Representatives
Julie Hamos (D-Evanston) and Patricia Bellock
(R-Westmont). State Senator Maggie Crotty (D-Oak Forest)
and Susan Garrett (D-Highwood) shepherded the legislation
through the Senate.
The legislation passed the House with a 107 to 5 vote, and the
"What if they find a student has a math disorder, a reading
disorder. Would that be a mental health disorder, one that would
cause the parents to put their children with a drug for a condition
they may or may not have?" Trainor asked.
The mental health program will develop a mental health system for
"all children ages 0-18 years," provide for screening to "ensure
appropriate and culturally relevant assessment of young children's
social and emotional development with the use of standardized
Also, all pregnant women will be screened for depression and
thereafter following her baby's birth, up to one year. Follow-up
treatment services will also be provided.
Trainor said that he is trying to get parents and citizens out to
voice their opinion about the new program.
Apparently, children's mental health will be assessed along with
their academic standards in the new proposed testing. The Illinois
State Board of Education has been given the responsibility to
develop the appropriate tests, according to last year's legislation.
The Task Force hosting the public forums this week are to send a
recommendation to Governor Blagojevich by the end of the summer,
according to the Act (HB 2900).
Developing story . . .
Monday, July 19 Champaign-Urbana/1:00 pm to 5:00
pm/Illinois Terminal Building, 4th floor/45 E. University Ave.,
Tuesday, July 20 Mt. Vernon/ 9:00 am to 1:00 pm/ Central
Christian Church/ 301 N. 10th St.
Wednesday, July 21 Edwardsville/9:00 am to 1:00 pm/
Edwardsville High School/ 6161 Center Grove Rd.
Thursday, July 22 Rockford/1:00 am to 5:00 pm/Rockford
Memorial Hospital, Funderburg Auditorium/2400 N. Rockton Ave.
Friday, July 23 Chicago /9:00 am to 1:00 pm/Spertus
Institute/ 618 S. Michigan Ave.
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