Alabama parents must sign form to continue school-based counseling and mental health services for their children

Published: Aug. 10, 2022 at 11:32 PM CDT
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HOOVER, Ala. (WBRC) - If you’re a parent or caregiver, you’ve probably signed a lot of forms lately as your kids head back to school, but there’s a new one that needs your attention.

It’s the opt-in for school counseling and mental health services form and if you have a child under the age of 14, this applies to you.

If you want your child to continue getting guidance counseling and other mental health services, you’ll have to opt-in or miss out.

Starting this school year, the state of Alabama is requiring all students younger than 14 to get permission to participate in school-based mental health activities and services.

“Basically, you’ll see options. You would see, for example, Peer Helpers, you would see large-group counseling, you would see surveys, and parents can opt-in to what they would want their child to be a part of,” said Chief Administrative Officer for Hoover City Schools, Dr. Terry Lamar.

It’s unclear why the state adopted the policy now, but Dr. Lamar said the only thing new about the services is the form.

“The services we are providing are the same services we’ve provided in Hoover City Schools since 1988 when Hoover became a school system. So, we’re not changing anything that we’re doing, it’s just now we’re required for parents to opt-in,” Dr. Lamar explained.

Some parents we’ve spoken to said they were skeptical about signing the form—believing their children would be exposed to sensitive information.

Dr. Lamar said that’s not true, and these types of services are needed now more than ever.

“We’re seeing more and more kids needing services like that that really are reaching out to have someone to talk to. I would really hate for someone not to opt in and to not give that kid that opportunity, that avenue, to have a conversation with their school counselor,” Dr. Lamar said.

You can change your mind and opt-in or out of these services at any time.

School leaders encourage you to reach out to counselors at your child’s school if you have any questions about these services.

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