Goshen students focus of mental health pact

GOSHEN — Students at Goshen Community Schools in need of mental health services will soon have a new level of support.

The school board has approved a contract to partner with Goshen-based Oaklawn Psychiatric Center to provide school-based services and support for students in all grade levels at the district.

The proposed collaboration is designed to "strengthen the social-emotional learning interventions offered to GCS students," according to the contract.

For instance, when the social or emotional needs of a student are beyond the resources available in the classroom, assessments, consultations or referrals could be made available to school staff to consider additional mental health services and resources in the interest of maintaining the student in the classroom and in their home school, the contract states.

“To that end, both believe that the integration of mental health expertise and services into the school environment will improve the school’s ability to address the social-emotional needs of students, which will also improve student educational/academic performance and overall functioning,” the contract states.

Through the new contract, Oaklawn will provide a year-round, school-based, licensed mental health clinician, and half-time case manager with mental health expertise to serve all schools within the Goshen school system. Both positions will be referred to as Oaklawn mental health liaisons.

Oaklawn's responsibilities will include:

• Provide consultations regarding strategies (both environmental as well as interventional) for addressing the needs of Tier 2 and 3 students;

• Provide or arrange for training in the area of increasing competence in schools staff on social-emotional needs and interventions;

• Linking with outside mental health and addiction providers and secure information about treatment that could be helpful to developing a successful school environment;

• Providing faster access to service when indicated by level of need

• At the request of GCS, provide teaching prevention curricula around suicide prevention, drug and alcohol prevention and dealing with anxiety/ depression that could be integrated into health and wellness classes.

• Ensure that Oaklawn mental health professionals have appropriate training and supervision to provide the services.

Goshen Community's responsibilities will include:

• Providing training to the Oaklawn mental health liaisons regarding school procedures and policies relevant to the role function;

• Designating an administrator who will oversee the fit and functioning of the integrated school mental health programming; and

• Developing a plan to evaluate and measure student progress.

Administrators and staff from both Goshen Community and Oaklawn will meet at least three times per year (beginning, middle and end of the school year) to develop plans, look ad data, modify the targets of intervention and problem-solve any barriers or needs to improve the impact of the partnership, the contract states.

The total cost to Goshen Community for the new partnership with Oaklawn is $100,000 per year and will be pro-rated to the start of services in a given academic year.

Deputy superintendent Steve Hope on Tuesday said funding will come from Title grants, money the district receives every year, so there will be no increase in spending.

“We are thrilled to have this relationship with Oaklawn,” he said. “We are excited about this additional level of support to our students and families.”

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