A new agreement between Boone County school leaders and the University of Missouri faculty who run the Center for Excellence in Family Access is designed to better coordinate school-based mental health services and the children’s community.
The deal was signed Friday by Boone County government center officials.
“We hired ten family intervention specialists to join the schools,” said Aaron Thompson, director of the MU School of Social Work and associate director of the Missouri Prevention Sciences Institute.
That is the tangible aspect of the new agreement, he said after the event. Family intervention specialists will be present next school year, with one in the school districts of Hallsville, Harrisburg, Southern Boone and Sturgeon and the remaining six in Columbia schools.
The idea is to streamline the services of school counselors and community-based FACE, he said.
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“We want to break down barriers to make it easier for people to access the supports they need,” Thompson said during the event.
Services have improved student attendance and academic performance and reduced behavior problems, Thompson said.
“We know the importance of recognizing teachers, counselors, and school psychologists,” he said.
In 2012, Boone County voters passed a quarter-cent sales tax set by the Boone County Children’s Services Fund, which raised about $ 6.7 million annually for in children’s programs. Since its inception, $ 44 million has been earmarked to improve the lives of children and families, said Joanne Nelson, director of community services for Boone County.
In schools, it also provides students with annual mental health projections.
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“We’ve really designed a national model to meet the mental health needs of our community,” said Chris Felmlee, superintendent of Southern Boone.
A mental health checklist tells school staff what to do when a child has a mental health crisis, Felmlee said, who considers it an important tool.
All services are important, he said, adding that the need is great as we emerge from a pandemic.
“This has an incredible impact and has made a huge difference in the lives of many in Boone County,” Felmlee said.