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Expansion sought for children’s mental health grants

published 3/6/2013
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Identifying and treating mental illness early in children is key to preventing life-long problems and what better place than in school where they spend a large part of their day, according to the results of a school-linked program operating in 65 counties.

The program offers grants to mental health providers who are given space at no charge in schools to work on-site with students having serious emotional disturbances. Rep. Jim Davnie (DFL-Mpls) sponsors a bill that would expand those grants so that mental health professionals could work in more schools. HF353 would appropriate a yet unspecified amount from the General Fund to the Department of Human Services for the grants.

The House Health and Human Services Finance Committee laid the bill over Wednesday for possible omnibus inclusion.

Sen. John Hoffman (DFL-Champlin) sponsors a companion, SF259 which awaits action by the Senate Health, Human Services and Housing Committee.

The bill is the “cornerstone” of a dozen bills introduced this session to help fund mental health services to a growing need of recipients, said Sue Abderholden, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Minnesota chapter.

“Families trust schools more than a building that says ‘mental health’ on it,” Abderholden said.

Previous grants resulted in decreased referrals for special education services and increased school attendance and academic success, Davnie said.

- Sue Hegarty

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