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Allamakee, IA: District wins $216K "Therapeutic Classroom grant" for disabled

July 7, 2021, Allamakee County (IA) Standard: Eastern Allamakee Community School District is one of six districts statewide to receive Therapeutic Classroom Grant

The Eastern Allamakee School District (EACSD) is one of six districts in the state of Iowa to win a competitive grant to establish a therapeutic classroom in the district. The EACSD, the smallest school district to receive the grant, will receive $216,000 to support the programming this year. The therapeutic classrooms will be for learners whose social-emotional or behavioral needs impact their ability to be successful in their current learning environment. … Dr. Updegraff explained, “The Therapeutic Classroom Grant is intended to establish supports for therapeutic classrooms for any learner, with or without an Individualized Education Program (IEP). It includes a multidisciplinary team which collaborates to design and deliver academics as well as social-emotional supports and behavior health programming. … The district will have several new positions as part of this grant. The EACSD Board of Directors recently approved the hiring of a Behavior Interventionist and a School Social Worker (see Page 9). In addition, there will be two classroom teachers for the K-12 program with special education and at-risk backgrounds, as well as paraprofessional support. … The grant is to be implemented in the 2021-2022 school year and will serve students as soon as school begins this fall. In addition, the district will be looking for ways to sustain the programming past the grant year. The State may come up with some additional funding because of continuing mental health needs. Dr. Updegraff elaborated about the need for such a program: “There is a lack of mental health services available to youth and families in the state, and even more so in rural Iowa. Right now, our closest referrals for mental health services are at least 35 miles away, which is often a burden to families who are already in crisis. By adding a therapeutic option at school and working with positive transitions to and from the traditional setting, we intend to bridge this gap. We hope to serve up to 20 students in K-12.”… Dr. Updegraff concluded, “Kee Connect will provide a real opportunity to increase our ability to meet the needs of all of our students and families. As our world and culture changes, and as a response to the pandemic, we are seeing more and more students who are suffering from trauma, in need of mental health services and needing assistance with behavior issues…. The Therapeutic Classroom Incentive Grant was established through State legislation signed into law last year and is part of a statewide effort to increase mental health supports for children, youth and families. Therapeutic supports include such things as social-emotional skill building, skills to cope with stress and trauma, mental health treatment, and crisis intervention and follow-up….

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