Updated: Dec 28, 2021
With fall in the air, students all across Montana are beginning to find their groove back in the classroom. For most, the previous year was filled with virtual learning and social distancing. This year, though, the teachers, students, and families are all more than thrilled to be back in a familiar setting.
It does not need to be said that this past year was difficult. The pandemic disrupted our lives on every level. It forced us to get creative and find alternative solutions to problems we didn’t yet know existed.
It opened our eyes to gaps in the behavioral health system, and it taught us the importance of the support systems we rely on so heavily. For many, the school setting plays an integral role in our lives. It’s a safe space for children and young adults. It fosters growth and learning, and it promotes independence.
Having experienced the absence of this during the previous year, it has become critically apparent to all of us just how important it is to keep kids in school and in their classrooms (and not the virtual kind).
One such program designed to support and maintain students in their classroom throughout the day is Comprehensive School and Community Treatment (CSCT). The program pairs a therapist with a behavioral specialist to form a team that is available to students. The team provides necessary therapy and in-class support to help eligible students achieve academic and behavioral success. It effectively keeps kids in school and out of trouble.
Just before summer, the current funding mechanisms for CSCT were disrupted pending changes at the federal level. Facing uncertainty, many school districts hit the pause button on the program and were hesitant to renew contracts with providers.
Now, the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) and the Office of Public Instruction are working together on solutions to continue services. The legislature has provided “bridge funding” while everyone anxiously awaits approval on the new funding mechanisms from Medicaid and the federal government.
While the buzz has many wondering what will happen with the program, AWARE remains committed to the hundreds of children and families it serves through CSCT in Montana. We’re actively working with DPHHS and the many school districts we operate in across the state.
At the end of the day, we’re committed to serving the kids that desperately need these services. We’re confident in our ability to meet their needs, and we look forward to the opportunities that lie ahead within the mental and behavioral health systems.
As we settle into the school year, we’re hoping to find our groove with CSCT again very soon. Our teams are still working with kids across the state and have been throughout the summer months. The final details just need to be worked out at the state and federal levels before it’s full steam ahead.
For any questions regarding AWARE’s CSCT program, please reach out to Heather Remington, school- based service director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As many of you know, Dr. Lyn Ankelman was our previous school-based service director. She recently found her dream home near a lake in Missouri and couldn’t say no to the opportunity. She will miss her students and her teams across Montana, and we will miss her. Heather Remington will take her place on AWARE’s leadership team and has served as an employee of AWARE since 2003. Heather has served in increasing capacities and roles over the last 17+ years and brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to our programs. She looks forward to pushing our school-based teams into a new era.