For the 2019-2020 school year, many area districts introduced new mental health supports to assist students.

For the 2019-2020 school year, Anamosa entered an operational sharing agreement with Monticello for a counselor and social worker. This is the first operational sharing agreement the district has entered and Superintendent Larry Hunt said it’s going very well.

“I think there were some growing pains at the beginning, because you are sharing with different districts and working with a lot of different kiddos…but it didn’t take much time to get that figured out,” he said. “Since then, it’s been really good and they keep expanding the number of kids and families they’re touching base with.”

In addition to helping the students and their families, the new arrangement has also been beneficial for staff members by providing them extra supports and freeing up more time to help kids in the classroom.

With the growing need for mental health professionals, Hunt said that there’s been conversations with legislators about providing more funding for positions like the two being shared between Monticello and Anamosa, but then the worry is being able to find the qualified candidates.

“Hopefully the state will develop a plan of action to help us with that,” Hunt said.

Springville is employing a half-time social worker through Covenant Family Solutions and Superintendent Pat Hocking said a quick bond has developed.

“It has gone very well and the social worker has become an actual part of the faculty,” Hocking said. “(It’s) serving a population of the student body that needs those types of service and in return helping the school address needs.”

While the district has not discussed any changes to the program, Hocking hopes to make the position full-time, but noted, “that will take some discussion and research.”

Midland contracted with Life Connections for their mental health services. Students at both the elementary are now able to use the services and the company has become a key component in the district.

“We have really enjoyed it and I think it’s really been a benefit to our staff, students and their families,” Midland Superintendent Todd Hawley said. “There is certainly a need and we’re going to continue to support that service being in our district.”

A pair of Life Connections representatives have become a part of the district’s PBIS meetings as part of an “interconnected system framework” the district is a part of.

Olin is conducting a mental health needs assessment. Superintendent Mark Dohmen said district officials wanted to ensure they understood the extent of the need that existed in the district. Once that is complete, the district would likely reach out to companies in the area for the possibility of contracting for their services.

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