Senator Portantino Receives 2022 Senate Legislative Champion Award for His Dedication to Mental Health Policies

Senator Anthony Portantino (Photo by Ross A Benson)

Senator Anthony J. Portantino (D – Burbank) received the 2022 Senate Legislative Champion Award from the California Alliance of Child and Family Services during their Homecoming Conference.  The Senator was honored for championing policies that promote the social, emotional, and behavioral well-being of children and families. 

“I am proud to advocate for comprehensive mental health policies that benefit our children and families and I am very humbled to receive this honor,” stated Senator Portantino.  “I am also privileged to work alongside many advocacy organizations dedicated to improving mental health outcomes for those in need.  Together we will continue to push forward policies that are critical to ensuring the long-term wellbeing and academic success of our kids.”

Senator Portantino has a strong record of advocating for mental health policies and has been dedicated to improving youth mental health outcomes during his time in public office.  The Senator previously authored SB 972, which required schools to print the suicide hotline on student identification cards.  He dedicated three years to pass SB 328, a policy which pushes back start times for middle and high schools.  Scientific data and research show that later school start times lead to improved mental health for kids, with reductions in instances of anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation. For his past work, Senator Portantino received the Children’s Hero Award from the California Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and has been recognized by Family Services Agency in Burbank and Sycamores in Pasadena.  Last year, the California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies (CBHA) honored the Senator as a Behavioral Health Champion.

Senator Portantino is the author of multiple bills aimed at improving mental health outcomes for youth.  SB 224 requires local educational agencies, which currently offer one or more courses in health education to middle or high school students, to include mental health content in those courses. It also requires that the California Department of Education develop a plan to expand mental health instruction in California public schools on or before January 1, 2024.  SB 14 requires the California Department of Education to recommend best practices and identify training programs to address youth behavioral health, including but not limited to, staff and pupil training.  Additionally, the bill ensures that youth absences from school for mental health issues will be treated as an excused absence in the same way any other health issues are treated.  This year, Senator Portantino authored SB 1302 to establish or improve wellness and mental health support centers on campuses, which is on the Governor’s desk for signature.

“The California Alliance of Child and Family Services is honored to award Senator Anthony Portantino with the 2022 California Alliance Youth Legislative Champion Award for the California Senate,” said Christine Stoner-Mertz, CEO of the Alliance. “Senator Portantino has focused so much of his career in the Senate on improving the lives of children, youth, and families across the state. His tireless advocacy and work on SB 224 to bring mental health education to our young people was pivotal.  We hope that his dedication will inspire others to join him in this critical work.”

The California Alliance of Child and Family Services promotes the health, well-being and safety of children, youth and families in California and serves as a collective voice for organizations that serve children, youth and families.