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Abilene, KS: District gets $150,000 for mental health support staff

Aug 23, 2018, Abilene (KS) Reflector Chronicle: Local program to address mental health of students http://www.abilene-rc.com/news/local-program-to-address-mental-health-of-students/article _ab917eb2-a6d8-11e8-874c-1376c8eac896.html Abilene Public Schools is one of a handful of school districts statewide chosen to participate in a state funded pilot program that addresses the mental health of students…. The Mental Health Intervention Program is part of the school finance bill approved this past legislative session to help meet the state Supreme Court’s mandate to increase spending on public schools. The pilot program teams up schools and community mental health centers to treat some of the state’s most at-risk children. The bill committed $10 million from the state’s general fund for the Mental Health Intervention team for one year, according to information from the Kansas Association of School Boards. … “We have been providing places in our buildings for their clinicians to give professional mental health, therapy, social groups, those kinds of things,” Cooper said. “That partnership is what the legislature wants to see statewide.”… The Abilene district will receive $150,000 to hire two school liaisons to cover the nine schools in Abilene, Chapman, Solomon and Herington. The liaisons are tasked with bridging the gap between the schools and the mental health center. “These people are dedicated to work with counselors, social workers, principals and get any kids into the mental health system that might need those services,” Cooper said…. Another part of the liaisons’ job is tracking data and getting that data to the state. “Anytime the state spends that kind of money, they want to see how many students have received services and where the money is going,” Cooper said. He estimates the grant money will probably be used to serve between 50 to 100 students in Abilene, Chapman, Solomon and Herington….. . Abilene Public Schools already had been working with Central Kansas Mental Health over the past year. The partnership grew out of conversations discussed by the Abilene Cares group who saw a need. “In the past two years we have hired a full time social worker, an additional K-5 counselor and a school resource officer and much of that is because of the needs this bill (MHI) is trying to address,” Cooper said. The Abilene district last year created space in the school buildings for students to see therapists. Oftentimes, getting to the appointment in Abilene or Salina was a problem….