New mental health pilot program experience success

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The new Mental Health Intervention Pilot Program is experiencing success in Wichita Public Schools.

Since the program began in the fall, they have served more than 550 students. As of the latest data, they have seen a 28% improvement in behavior and 21% improvement in attendance.

"Those numbers tell me that there's definitely a need to continue this type of service, to be able to work in collaboration with community mental health providers, in order to help our students be successful emotionally as well as socially," said Tiffinie Irving, deputy superintendent for USD 259.

The district hired 22 social workers for the 22 schools that were chosen to be part of the program.

Funding for those positions and this program are possible through state funding. A total of nearly $10-million was approved last year for the new program to begin at five school districts and the Central Kansas Cooperative in Education.

Wichita Schools received $1.5-million for the program.

"We're very grateful, very appreciative. Definitely, the need is there. And, we're very optimistic and hopeful that it will continue to be funded to provide those services here at our school for our kids," said Joel Hudson, principal at Wichita West High School.

In each of the participating schools in Wichita, there is a Master's level clinical social worker and two COMCARE workers that serve as a case manager and clinical therapist.