Funding mental health services in schools

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The legislature appropriated $4.5 million in grants last session in an effort to provide development training for educators working with Level 4 student populations; these settings serve students with severe and serious educational and emotional needs. During the committee process, educators testified to the serious need for such training in order to ensure their students’ needs were addressed and teachers were providing the best possible services to the students.

A bill was introduced this week that aims to create funding sources for mental health services at alternative learning centers operating in intermediate school districts. Intermediate school districts would be added to the list of places eligible to receive the funds provided through the Children’s Mental Health grant statute. It would also create permanent staff development programs for those cooperative educational service providers with Level 4 students and provide additional funding for a study on the accountability of student support and services in intermediate school districts.

As opposed to last year’s one-time appropriation of funds, this bill would appropriate future funding for school-linked mental health services on an on-going basis. The bill was referred to the E-12 Policy Committee. (SF 768)