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Comcare To Provide Mental Health Services In Wichita Schools

Betty Lee/Ars Electronica

Wichita Public Schools will begin offering mental health services for children and families at some schools beginning in August.

The Kansas Legislature selected the district to test a new mental health intervention program.

Sedgwick County’s Comcare will provide behavioral health intervention teams to assess and treat students at 22 schools.

Comcare Executive Director Joan Tammany says the additional staffing on-site at schools will increase access to mental health treatment.

"We’re hoping that it really has benefits for youth in the school. We also get to connect with teachers and families by being in this natural setting all day with the school staff," Tammany says.

The teams will be available at five special day schools, five elementary, six middle and six high schools.

Tammany says they expect to serve about 800 students during the first year of the trial. School officials will be in charge of referring students for mental health assessments.

"The overall arching goal of the program is to improve the social, emotional and mental health wellness and outcomes for students by increasing access to treatment," she says.

If all goes well, the mental health intervention program will expand to other schools in Sedgwick County, and then statewide in two years.

The Wichita district is one of six school districts statewide — three urban and three rural — selected to participate in the pilot program.

The Kansas Department of Education is providing $1,029,00 in funding to the Wichita district. Tammany says the program won’t have an impact on the county budget because Comcare will bill Medicaid and private insurance for services if possible.

Comcare will begin hiring 34 clinicians/therapists along with 45 case managers in July.

Sedgwick County Commissioners approved an agreement with USD 259 for the collaborative program at a meeting on Wednesday.

Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar. To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.