Area schools now have funding to put more of an emphasis on the mental health of students.
The Eau Claire Area School District received school-based mental health service grants from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, in order to hire a mental health coordinator who will help develop support programs for students.
Kaying Xiong, Director of Student Services for the school district, was one of the key people that helped write the grants and talked about mental health programs in the school district.
“We wrote the grant to support and expand our mental health needs in the district,” Xiong said. “We currently have a fairly robust mental health system with our community partners, but we felt that by writing for the grant we would be able to have other opportunities to hire a coordinator.”
Xiong says she’s excited for the new mental health coordinator position and the opportunities it will provide for students in the school district.
“I think it gives us an opportunity to look more deeply at our system and how to better build that system so that we’re able to service all students that need the services,” she said.
The district’s Positive Behavior Intervention Support Coordinator, also known as PBIS, Jodi Hubbard, will work closely with the new mental health coordinator on how to better meet the needs of students in the district.
“My role is to support all of our buildings,” Hubbard said. “So we have 19 different buildings that I support, and what that means is we look at systems, so PBIS is really a framework and frameworks help you organize systems. So we develop systems and then implement practices that support students with behavior.”
Hubbard says she’s looking forward to seeing the existing program, grow even more.
“I am very excited about this opportunity,” she said. “Right now we have had services in place and specifically a school based mental health program since 2012 that started very small, and we have grown to having 5 different partnerships with that collaboration with the community.”
The new program is estimated to cost $150,000 during two years beginning in the 2019-2020 school year and is completely paid for by grants.