January 11, 2019 (MLIVE) – Gov. Rick Snyder recently signed legislation designating $31.3 million for School Mental Health and Support Services within the K-12 budget.
Advocates for children say years of lobbying and advocacy finally paid off in December.
School leaders say every year they try to meet the growing needs of students with mental, emotional or behavioral disorders with limited resources.
“We are abundantly grateful for the allocation because it acknowledges student mental health issues are a problem in our schools,’’ said Ottawa Area ISD Superintendent Peter Haines.
“For a long time, there has been a universal outcry that this is a common problem. This funding is a good start and will make a difference.’’
There is also excitement around the funding opening the door for the possible expansion of the Medicaid-enrolled students for whom a school can bill Medicaid for health services delivered in the school.
West Michigan’s Sen. Pete MacGregor, R-Cannon Township, and former Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, co-sponsored the school mental health bill which includes the following funds:
- $16.5 million for intermediate school districts (ISDs) to work with their local school systems to provide mental health services. Statewide it breaks down to $294,500 for each ISD. The Ottawa Area ISD has 11 districts and the Kent ISD 20.
- $5 million to hire additional licensed mental health care providers in School-Based Health Centers such as those operated locally by Cherry Health.
- $8 million for ISDs will to create school-based behavioral health assessment teams utilizing a “train the trainer’’ model that focuses on providing age-appropriate interventions, identifying behaviors that suggest a student is struggling with mental health challenges for treatment and support.
- $500,000 to assist ISDs with administration for school mental health programs.