Dane County, district to expand mental health resources in schools

Madison school board postpones police contract renewal

Dane County and the Madison Metropolitan School District are working together to fund and implement an expanded mental health program for Madison schools, according to a release.

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced a countywide expansion of the School Based Mental Health Teams, which was the first in the state when it was announced in 2014.

The pilot project is being expanded to all elementary and middle schools in Madison with a grant program offered to the other school districts in Dane County, officials said.

“The effects of mental illness are far reaching, affecting classrooms, families, and workplaces,” Parisi said in the release. “We all have personal accounts of its impact and the barriers it presents to learning in school and professional development at work, not to mention the challenges it presents to maintaining safe and healthy homes.”

In 2014, the program brought mental health professionals in area schools, including Madison, Verona and Sun Prairie, according to the release. Trained professionals partner with teachers, parents and law enforcement agencies to address the root causes of feelings and behaviors that sometimes affect the learning process.

The expansion will make the crisis intervention teams available districtwide for kindergarten through eighth grade in 2016, officials said. The county and school district will share the cost of the expansion, which is $250,000.

Outside of Madison, a grant program will be available to districts interested in partnering to state additional teams, according to the release.