AZ Democrats announce bills to increase funding for school counselors

Posted at 12:30 PM, Jan 31, 2019

PHOENIX — Arizona Democrats announced two separate bills Thursday aimed to increase funding for school counselors, primarily to help students struggling with anxiety and depression.

A tweet issued by the Arizona House Democrats on Thursday afternoon stated, “Students are struggling with anxiety and depression, and sadly we are seeing more suicides.”

Representative Jennifer Pawlik and Senator Alston Bowie introduced HB2562 and SB1344, both with the working title “school counselors; grants.”

Language within SB1344 states the counselor would be responsible for planning, organizing and "deliver[ing] a comprehensive school guidance and counseling program that personalized education and that supports, promotes, and enhances the academic, personal, social, emotional and career development of all students."

The introduction of the proposed bills come at a critical time in the Valley.

According to a report brought to you by ABC15 in early January, the number of youths taking their life has increased in recent years. Numbers given to ABC15 by Teen Lifeline show 88 teen suicides were reported in 2016 and 2017 combined. The numbers for 2018 are not available yet.

RELATED: Teen suicide prevention: Highlighting the warning signs and what is being done in Arizona

Proponents of the House and Senate bills hope they can be implemented by the 2024-2025 school year.

CLICK HERE to read SB1344.

CLICK HERE to read HB2562.