State Superintendent Tony Evers today unveiled the details of a budget proposal to substantially increase school-based mental health funding. It is the first of several 2019-21 state budget requests that the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) will be putting forward in the coming weeks.
The DPI is requesting $10 million to expand collaborative grants designed to bring schools and community mental health providers together to serve the needs of students and families. (The 2017-19 state budget funded this grant program at a level of $3.25 million, starting in the 2018-19 school year.)
The DPI budget request will also seek $44 million to expand a categorical aid program designed to enable districts to hire additional pupil services staff, including school counselors and school psychologists as well as school social workers. This expanded aid will be used to match district funds when hiring these positions. (The 2017-19 state budget provided $3 million in funding for this aid program, beginning with the 2018-19 school year, with funding focused solely on hiring additional school social workers.)
Finally, the DPI is requesting $5 million to fund statewide training and support, including two additional programs focused on preventing youth suicide. One of the new state programs would be used to fund parent peer specialists, in conjunction with family-run organizations, to assist families in overcoming emotional and mental health challenges.