On Wednesday, October 24, President Trump signed into law bipartisan legislation, H.R. 6, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act.

This sweeping legislation contains many provisions that could help children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness who are impacted by the opioid crisis, as well as provisions to help all children and youth who experience trauma. Some highlights of the legislation include the following provisions:

Youth Prevention and Recovery Initiative. This initiative requires the Secretary of HHS, in consultation with the Department of Education, to identify and disseminate best practices for the prevention of and recovery from substance use disorder, including for specific populations such as homeless youth, out-of-school youth, and youth in foster care. Grants are authorized to carry out substance abuse disorder prevention and treatment programs.

Adverse Childhood Experiences Data Collection. To help understand the causes and effects of adverse childhood experiences, this subtitle authorizes the Centers for Disease Control to work with states in collecting and reporting data on adverse childhood experiences through the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System and other public health surveys.

Interagency Task Force on Trauma-Informed Supports. To help identify, prevent, and address the impact of trauma on children and youth, including trauma related to substance abuse, this subtitle creates a task force to recommend best practices for supporting children and families who have experienced or are at risk of experiencing trauma. 

Grants to Improve Trauma Support Services and Mental Health Care in Schools. To better support children and families impacted by the opioid crisis, this subtitle creates a grant for SEAs, LEAs, and Indian Tribes to increase student access to evidence-based trauma support services and mental health care by developing innovative initiatives, activities, or programs to link local school systems with local trauma-informed support and mental health systems. Grants may be used to implement schoolwide positive behavioral interventions and supports, or other trauma-informed models of support, to provide professional development to teachers and school leaders, and to establish partnerships with or provide subgrants to Head Start agencies, public and private preschool programs, and child care programs, among other activities. 

Recognizing Early Childhood Trauma Related to Substance Abuse. The Secretary of Health and Human Services must disseminate information and resources to early childhood care and education providers and professionals working with young children on ways to properly recognize children who may be impacted by trauma and how to respond appropriately.  

Report on Housing-Related Services and Supports for Individuals Struggling with Substance Use Disorders Under Medicaid. The Secretary of Health and Human Services must issue a report to Congress describing innovative State initiatives and strategies for providing housing-related services and supports under a State Medicaid program to individuals with substance use disorders who are experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness. This report may include housing services and supports for youth experiencing homelessness, as they are eligible for Medicaid at least until age 19, and longer in many states.

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