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Kansas Board of Education prioritizing mental health with $1 billion in federal aid

Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 6:23 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Kansas Department of Education received more than one billion dollars in federal aid and Kansas schools are prioritizing mental health when spending the funds.

State education leaders discussed just how the federal funds will be used to benefit Kansas schools during Wednesday’s meeting.

“Well over 90% go directly out to school districts and then little of the set aside money that the state board has, they have earmarked a variety of ways,” said the Kansas Commissioner of Education, Randy Watson. “Academically they are putting almost twenty million dollars for literacy, mathematics, tighter assessment to learn from, and then training of teachers to make up for that loss.”

The work group said Kansas school districts will be using their share of the funds to improve their mental health care programs.

“They sort of range from hiring additional counselors and social workers, working with community mental health centers to provide services to students during school hours, working on hiring intervention specialist so those specialist are able to work with kids in one on one settings or small groups.”

The discussion came just a day after the American Academy of Pediatrics declared a national emergency in child and adolescent mental health.

“This was already happening and it has just become much worse as life has been disrupted for children and families, we know that the safety nets and mechanism made to identify the children at risk were not available to these children through the pandemic so there have been more cases of maltreatment, neglect, and abuse that went unrecognized,” said Dr. Dena Hubbard, a Kansas Pediatrician.

The work group agreed that it is time to take mental health more seriously and especially with the youth.

“The brain is an organ and yet it’s not recognized as such, are policies and reimbursement of mental health care, its health care so i think this is an opportunity for Kansas as well as nationally that we invest appropriately in mental health care because it’s a part of health it’s a very important part children are the highest return on investment,” said Dr. Hubbard.

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