Lawmakers and state agencies attempt to ‘ensure sustainability’ of school mental health program

Montana officials said this week they had found a solution to fund a school mental health program that had been on shaky ground for more than a year. It is still unclear how many schools will be able to continue the program.

State legislature and state agencies have tried to resolve the funding problem to keep the children’s mental health program afloat after a federal agency said schools were not meeting standards. federal payment.

Schools are responsible for covering about one-third of the cost of using the comprehensive school and community treatment program, which is funded by Medicaid. The service connects students with severe emotional disorders with mental health care providers.

On Wednesday, the state health department and the Montana Bureau of Public Education announced they had created a plan to “ensure the sustainability” of the program.

Schools have received new guidelines on how to fund the service for students, but it is still subject to federal review. The program was transferred from the Ministry of Health to the Ministry of Education for monitoring.

Jay Phillips of OPI told lawmakers it is difficult to say how many schools will be able to pay their share for the program under the new model.

“You know, every school district at the local level will have its own challenges,” he says.

The Legislature allocated approximately $ 2 million last spring as bridge funding for the program. Over $ 400,000 has been spent. Phillips says he hopes the state will have a better idea of ​​which school districts are able to pay for mental health service by the end of October.

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