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Kaukauna lawmaker is pushing plan to address mental health issues in our schools

Local News

KAUKAUNA, Wis. (WFRV) A area lawmaker is pushing a plan to help better deal with mental health issues in our schools. It’s a pilot program that would make experts available to school staff as needed.

Every day in the Kaukauna School District, students bring issues to school counselors and other support staff.

“It is an issue that we must deal with on a daily basis, sometimes on a minute-to-minute basis,” said Kaukauna School District Superintendent Mark Duerwaechter.

And soon, should those conversations deal with mental health issues and school counselors need expert advice, under a proposal by Rep. Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna) it will be just a phone call away.

“It is going to start delivering education the help the school districts need to better deal with the kids presenting some of these mental illnesses,” said Steineke.

The state lawmaker is proposing a school-based mental health pilot program in Outagamie County schools. It would give school counselors access to mental health experts through the Medical College of Wisconsin to help them determine next steps for a student in crisis.

“This is what I hear is going on, here are some potential strategies, so that is the value, being able to have that immediate consultation,” said Duerwaechter.

The proposal evolved out of the state’s existing Child Psychiatry Consultation Program which gives primary care physicians treating kids access to psychiatrists. It is a service started in 2015 with much success.

“We’ll see how it works, we’ll see what kind of value that expertise can provide, as we bring it to the table,” said Dr. Jon Lehrmann from the Medical College of Wisconsin.

And those in education, like here in Kaukauna, are hopeful the proposal wins support in Madison.

“This is going to help our services in meeting our kids needs,” Duerwaechter said.

Steineke says the program would cost $175,000. He’s hoping to get it passed before the end of the current legislative session.

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