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Anoka-Hennepin earmarks $1.3 million in state funding for school-based mental health

Anoka-Hennepin  (11/08/19) Last spring, the Minnesota state legislature approved a Safe Schools Supplemental Aid appropriation. The aid package provided $30 million, to be shared by all school districts in the state, to help pay for safety expenditures, such as police liaison services, counseling, or other safety measures for students and staff.

Anoka-Hennepin’s portion is $1.32 million, and the district is using the state aid to help fund its school-based mental health services. In fact, the district now provides mental health services at each of its schools and sites, which includes early intervention, crisis management, screening, individual and family therapy, and other supports.

Michelle Vargas, the district’s chief financial officer, said Anoka-Hennepin is using about $323,000 annually, and spreading the Safe Schools money out, to help supplement the program for up to four years while simultaneously lobbying for permanent state funding.

“Our School Board has made it a priority to have mental health staff at every site,” she said. “So that’s why we’ve made this investment.”

According to Dr. Eric Melbye, associate superintendent for middle schools and student services, Anoka-Hennepin’s student-based mental health services are funded through a braided approach, and the Safe Schools aid is just part of that.

All told, the district has service delivery agreements with three contracted mental health agencies, and when needed, those agencies work to connect families to appropriate and affordable/no cost services, which can include on-site school-based mental health.

For more information about the district's school-based mental health programming, contact the district's mental health consultant, Dr. Nita Kumar at 763-506-1161.