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Mental Health Pilot Program At Schools Showing Success

Nadya Faulx
KMUW/File photo

A program that offers mental health services at Wichita schools is showing signs of success.

Comcare Executive Director Joan Tammany gave a progress report at a Sedgwick County Commission meeting last week. She says the program is right where it needs to be at the halfway point of the school year.

Comcare hired therapists and case managers for 22 schools in the Wichita district. The behavioral health intervention teams are assessing and treating students by referral at six elementary schools, six middle schools, five high schools and five special day schools.

So far, 401 students are receiving mental health treatment and services while at school. Tammany says for a majority of those kids, attendance is up and behavioral issues have improved.

"That means those children are staying in the classroom and actually learning," she told commissioners. "Where before, they probably wouldn’t disrupted and spent time within the principal’s office or some other form of suspension, et cetera."

She says parents and school officials reported positive feedback on the program.

Comcare bills Medicaid and private insurance for services if possible.

Tammany expects the program to grow and serve about 800 students by the end of the school year.

The Kansas Legislature selected the Wichita district and five others across the state to test the mental health intervention program. Tammany hopes the Legislature will expand the program to serve suburban districts in Sedgwick County.

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