Dane County, Stoughton Schools Team for New Mental Health Partnership
July 13, 2017
Josh Wescott 608-266-9069
Today, County Executive Joe Parisi announced Dane County and the Stoughton Area School District are partnering to provide Building Bridges, a Mental Health Crisis Team program, to local students and their families. Building Bridges, a program created by Dane County and funded through partnerships with the county and local school districts, focuses on connecting youth with critical mental health services and resources before a crisis takes place. The program will debut in the Stoughton School District this fall.
“Proactively reaching out to students and making sure we address mental health issues at the earliest signs is a smart and healthy initiative to take part in—not only for a school district but for Dane County as a whole,” County Executive Joe Parisi said. “Investing in Dane County’s younger residents’ mental health shows that we take their futures seriously and want to see them grow to thrive in our community.”
Dane County and Stoughton Schools will each pay $63,000 for two mental health experts to serve 4-year-old kindergarten through eighth-grade students with immediate mental health needs. The team will cost $126,000 per school year and will serve four schools within the district, including River Bluff Middle School and three elementary schools—Fox Prairie, Kegonsa and Sandhill.
“The Stoughton Area School District has been faced with students who are coming to school with various challenges—including mental health and trauma, and as with any public school we accept all children in our community of learners,” said Director of Student Services Keli Melcher. “We are excited to have the opportunity to work with Dane County and the Building Bridges program which will help Stoughton staff and families support these children and youth to reach their full potential as learners. We thank the County Executive and our community for supporting schools in this manner to meet these challenges.”
The Building Bridges Mental Health Crisis Teams increase student success by providing proactive responses to stressors, growing staff’s understanding of mental health issues, and connecting schools, families, and students with needed resources. There is no cost to families for services offered through the program.
The potential for this partnership was discussed nearly a year ago in a meeting at Stoughton City Hall with Mayor Donna Olsen and other community leaders.
“With a vital focus on mental health and mental health needs, I am excited to work with Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and the Stoughton Area School District to bring this program to Stoughton,” said Mayor Olsen. “Building Bridges Mental Health Crisis Teams is one more great example of how the County, City and Stoughton Area School District work together to meet the needs of our community.”
The Mental Health Crisis Teams program was first created by the Dane County Executive in 2014 as his most significant policy initiative. The program started as a pilot effort in Madison, Sun Prairie and Verona and has since expanded to other areas. Building Bridges currently serves the school districts of DeForest, Madison, Middleton-Cross Plains, Sun Prairie, Verona, and Wisconsin Heights.
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi added an additional $153,000 in his 2017 budget to expand Building Bridges’ services to more school districts in Dane County. This year’s County investment in Mental Health Crisis Teams total $481,925.