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A Bit about BIT Legislation

By: Makenzie Schiemann, M.S., President, NABITA

Behavioral intervention teams (BITs) have consistently struggled to get buy-in from upper administration and receive dedicated budget lines, largely due to lack of federal support and legislation related to BITs. While some states have implemented laws mandating some form of a behavioral intervention or threat assessment team, the state laws have largely gone unenforced and are seen as an unfunded mandate difficult to implement. Without federal best practices for schools related to BITs, and federal funding to support the operation of the BIT, schools struggle to find funding for training and resources for the team. Pending legislation could change this.

There are two bills that legislators are drafting in collaboration with NABITA that focus on BITs and the support personnel related to BITs – the Behavioral Intervention Guidelines (BIG) Act H.R.3539, and the Advancing Student Services in Schools Today (ASSIST) Act H.R.8942. The BIG Act is critical legislation for student support and safety as it requires the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to develop best practices for schools to establish a BIT, mandate that schools receive training in BIT best practices, and require technical assistance to assist schools in implementing the best practices. The ASSIST Act authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services to award grants to schools for increasing the number of training and support resources for behavioral intervention teams, the number of non-clinical case managers, and the number of clinical behavioral health care providers in schools. Coupled together, these bills pack a powerful punch for schools in leveraging support for developing effective BITs and ensuring appropriate personnel to implement them and provide direct services to students. This legislation would provide the launching pad for implementing a solution in schools that helps administrators provide safety and support to students without a significant impact on their limited budgets.

NABITA is committed to working in partnership with Congress to ensure these bills are crafted in a way that aligns with the work the field has been doing for decades. We believe these bills will enhance the work you do and provide you with the leverage needed to secure resources.

If you would like to learn more about these pieces of legislation, you may access the recording of our Policy and Government Affairs 101 webinar that was held on March 16th.