How We Support Mental Health Services in Our Elementary Schools

Recognizing the Palm Beach County School District’s effort to establish or expand school-based mental health services, Children’s Services Council created the Mental Health Assistance Program for the 2018-2019 school year to support vulnerable communities.

CSC funded co-located mental health providers in the ten highest-need elementary schools. These schools are in areas where CSC already has established community resource centers called BRIDGES. In the first school year, more than 1,100 children were served. Since the 2019-2020 school year began, nearly 400 more students have been served. We are delighted that 9 of the 10 therapists (two bi-lingual) remained in place for the second school year. Our agreement with the District ensures a consistent framework for Behavior/Mental Health Services, provides access to required data systems to the agency providing the therapists, and shares aggregated program results.

Through CSC’s close partnership with the School District, we recognized at the start of the previous school year that the authorized level of state funding was insufficient to ensure appropriate mental health services are available at each school. CSC committed to provide the funding at 10 elementary schools to fill the gap until the District is able to secure additional revenue from local taxpayers. For the 2018-2019 school year, CSC invested up to $420,000 to help reduce the two- to three-month wait for services that students would have faced otherwise.

This program provides students and their families with evidence-based mental health treatment that includes assessment, diagnosis, intervention, treatment, and recovery. Services include classroom support, contact with teachers and caregivers, crisis intervention, and one-on-one therapy support within the school setting, at home, and out in the community. The school mental health therapists are reporting successful student, and in some cases, classroom outcomes. Some school administrators report a reduction in discipline referrals for some of the students supported by the program. The staff also report they are enrolling new children, many of whom will be Pre-K students, so we’re able to reach even younger children with concerns.

About Healthy, Safe, Strong Stories

Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County continues to serve local children and families with the same mission that’s motivated us since 1986: to keep our county’s children healthy, safe and strong. This #HealthySafeStrong series highlights some of the programs and services we provide that help our children succeed in school. This project is one example of our work to improve children’s literacy, for which CSC has been honored by the national Grade-Level Reading Campaign as a “Pacesetter” community. To contact Children’s Services Council, please click here.