August 3, 2004

New Mental Health Law: Potential Risk to Homeschoolers

Recently SB 1951 was passed by the Illinois legislature and signed by the Governor. The bill consolidates mental health programs and treatments in the state of Illinois. The bill will not affect homeschool families, however. The only requirement is that there needs to be "uniform protocols for implementing screening and assessment of children prior to any admission to an in-patient hospital for psychiatric services." Therefore this new law does not require children to automatically obtain a mental health assessment. It only requires children who are in families who are seeking medical help for their child's mental health problems.

However, children who are in public schools may still feel the impact of this new law because it will require the Illinois State Board of Education to "develop and implement a plan to incorporate social and emotional development standards as part of the Illinois Learning Standards for the purpose of enhancing and measuring children's school readiness and ability to achieve academic success." We believe, at HSLDA, that this only applies to children who will be attending or are attending public school pre-school programs. This is not applicable to private schools, according to the language of SB 1951.

Nonetheless, we will be watching carefully the implementation of this bill to ensure that there is no attempt to go beyond the new law and mandate that all children follow these "social and emotional developmental standards." We believe that the lesson from this bill is, once again, that sending children to public school will open your family to these types of problems and limit your parental rights and controls over the training of your children.