Cedar Rapids schools may shift models for mental health services

Lauren Williams's picture
Monday, August 25, 2014

If Cedar Rapids school board members approve new agreements with the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Abbe Center for Community Mental Health, school-based therapy largely will be replaced in favor of assessments and consultations.

The vote will take place during the board meeting slated for 5:30 p.m. Monday.

“At first we were trying to do everything for everyone, when money wasn’t such an issue,” said Rhoda Shepherd, director of health services for Cedar Rapids schools. “Now, mental health services and health care have changed so much in the last three years that Abbe really had to focus on billable services.”

In the past, Abbe provided multiple therapists — each serving three to five schools — to do on-site therapy with students as requested at all Cedar Rapids buildings. The district’s funding source for that work has “dried up,” Shepherd said. Instead, Johnson Elementary School, McKinley Middle School and Metro and Washington high schools — will each have a half-time mental health specialist to serve as consultant and assess students who exhibit mental health concerns.

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