How a college provides mental health care to K-12 kids

University of Missouri stations family intervention specialists in rural schools to provide on-demand care

Student mental health is among the leading concerns of superintendents and their teams as schools emerge from the COVID pandemic.

Mental health Approximately 24,000 school-aged children and their families will have greater access to mental health care through a new University of Missouri initiative funded by local taxes.

The university’s Family Access Center of Excellence has merged with the Boone County Schools Mental Health Coalition. The new partnership will administer annual screenings of K-12 students for social, emotional and behavioral health concerns; train for teachers and administrators; and provide counseling and case management services for higher-risk students.

The Center will station 10 family intervention specialists in rural schools to provide on-demand care, deescalate immediate behavioral crises, connect families with additional short- and long-term support services, and support school staff.

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“It’s about social, emotional and behavioral health,” said Aaron Thompson, project leader for the Family Access Center of Excellence. “We are able to affect that positively for any student that we come into contact with or a family who might be in crisis in the middle of the night.”

The Center will also continue to conduct mental health assessments and refer families to community-based services that been shown to reduce the severity of symptoms.

“FACE represented the beginning of a close partnership among the Boone County Schools,” Columbia Public Schools Superintendent Peter Stiepleman said. “Now, we collaborate on nearly everything. FACE serves as a convener for families, and it has served as a nexus for the Boone County’s school districts.”

Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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