July 12, 2023
Dr. Rabiatu E Barrie, PhD
Education Reform Now DC
DC Council, Committee of the Whole
Public Hearing on:
Bill 25-55, “Pathways to Behavioral Health Degrees Act of 2023”
Chairperson Phil Mendelson and Committee of the Whole Members,
I am Dr. Rabiatu Barrie, a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland, and a civic leader for Education Reform Now DC. Thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today. While I am a Maryland resident, I do have the privilege of training and collaborating with numerous students and professionals who serve DC residents. I see the impacts of policies in DC extend beyond its boundaries, significantly affecting the broader region, including Maryland. In March, I testified¹ in support of this legislation and urged the Committee of the Whole to hold a hearing on the bill. Thank you for listening. Today, I will present actionable steps to enhance mental health services in DC public schools, supporting the overall well-being and success of our students.
Building on the testimonies of my fellow education reform champions, Minetre Martin and Sherri Daniels, I would like to propose that UDC consider the following enhancements when implementing this program:
Consider broadening the eligibility requirements of the program.
While the current criteria aim to ensure the program benefits the District, we must not forget about individuals who might not have attended a DC public school but have strong ties to the District or clear intent to serve our community in the future. For example, people who may have relocated to the District after their high school education but have been contributing to the community for a significant time or anyone who has completed relevant associate degree programs or earned certificates in the District and intend to pursue a career in behavioral health in the District could also be strong candidates for this program.
Provide mental health services for program participants.
The emotionally demanding nature of behavioral health work makes this proactive measure crucial for ensuring the well-being of our future professionals. As a current professional in this field, I can attest to the importance of this service.
Establish a clear framework for oversight and program effectiveness
To ensure the efficacy and accountability of these measures, I recommend that UDC establish a clear evaluation framework for these initiatives. Regular monitoring, tracking of graduates’ career progression, quality of education, and participant feedback will ensure the program meets its intended goals.
Key performance indicators could include clinician retention rates, student graduation rates, and post-graduation employment in the District’s behavioral health services.
In conclusion, by implementing these measures, UDC will send a strong message about its commitment to its long-term strategy of preparing our own local students for the careers that our community most needs.
The proposed solutions, backed by the DC Council’s unwavering commitment, can lead to profound and lasting positive impacts on the lives of countless children and adolescents in the District of Columbia.
Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to the opportunity to answer any questions you may have and to further discuss this legislation.