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CF schools offer mental health services to K-12 students and their families

The Chippewa Herald - 10/6/2022

Oct. 6—Mental health has been front page news since the beginning of the pandemic, especially for teens and young adults. Providing support and counseling to young people is crucial when the world is in flux.

Currently the schools in Chippewa Falls offer a number of services including:

* The Student and Family Assistance Program (SFAP)

* School Based Mental Health (SBMH)

* Interconnected Systems Framework (ISF)

* Project AWARE Grant

* Mental Health Navigator

The efforts to provide care extend beyond individual school kids, to their families.

The Chippewa Falls Area School District started the free Student and Family Assistance Program (SFAP) counseling sessions during the 2018 — 2019 school year.

During the 2021 — 2022 school year the district started offering the parent coaching sessions. This school year it added on the youth coaching sessions, said Jamie Ganske, the district's director of Mental Health and Resiliency.

"We have what's called a Student and Family Assistance Program. And that is very similar to an EAP (Employee Assistance Program). But instead of it being for employees, it's for our students and family members," Ganske said.

All students in kindergarten through 12th grade have access to free counseling sessions. And they can either pick four free parent coaching sessions or four free youth coaching sessions, Ganske said.

"Coaching is not with a licensed therapist. It's more of a skill building. The parent coaches and youth coaches can go directly into their home and work with the family directly on the skills needed," Ganske said.

"For youth coaching, there's also an option of the youth coach coming into the school and working with a student one-on-one at the school during the school day," she said.

Ganske said that this past summer was the first year that the schools offered school-based mental health all summer long, not just through the three weeks of summer school.

"You can see where the year before we had 10 students in school-based mental health. This year we had 69 students in school-based mental health. So clearly there was a need and it was utilized," she said.

The schools also have what's called the Interconnected Systems Framework (ISF).

"That's a fancy way of saying that we love bringing our community clinicians into our building," Ganske said.

An ISF blends the public school behavior system (PBIS) with a mental health system of support to improve educational outcomes for students. There is an emphasis on prevention, early identification, and intervention of the social, emotional, and behavior needs of the students.

The ISF program allows community clinicians to come into school buildings in order to co-facilitate small groups, offer staff members consultation, offer staff professional development, and more.

"We truly value our community partnerships and love having them come in and work with us," she said.

Resources Available within the Interconnected Systems Framework:

* 1 co-facilitated group (8 hrs total) per semester for each school

* Staff Professional Development

* 1 booth at each Open House

* DCLT meetings

* Consultation Time for any staff member

* Total ISF Hours available: 218

* As of 8/31/22, total hours used: 302

* Available hours: (-84)

* The schools continue to add more providers

Ganske said the schools are lucky because they currently have a five-year Project AWARE mental health grant which covers almost everything financially, she said.

"We wanted to start parent coaching and youth coaching as well, but we didn't have that budgeted last year. So we made a new partnership with Group Health Cooperative of Eau Claire which is funding the parent coaching and youth coaching," Ganske said.

Ganske is proud of the support that the schools are able to offer.

"I love our community partnerships. I am so blessed for the staff that I get to work with in our district. We have amazing people working here in our district. And we have community support as well," she said.

If you'd like to arrange mental health support for your student or a student's family you can call Jaime Ganske or Shannon Larson, the CFAUSD mental health navigator or email


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