Cardinal Care provides mental health services to CFAUSD

Published: Feb. 3, 2022 at 6:49 PM CST
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CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) - The pandemic has taken a toll on many aspects of life, including the mental health of children.

The Chippewa Falls Area Unified School District is taking steps to make mental health care more accessible to students.

Cardinal Care allows for grades 4K through 12th to have access to mental health care while at school.

“We started out with one therapist and one agency and then continued to grow our school-based mental health support,” Director of Mental Health and Resiliency for CFAUSD, Jamie Ganske said.

Ganske says by partnering with a number of counseling agencies, they’re able to bring therapists into the schools. She says this allows for four free sessions per child per school year.

“We’re able to pay for four free counseling sessions through our student and family assistance program,” Ganske said. “So, that was our next big addition is finding a way for all students to access school-based mental health.”

The program started during the 2014-2015 school year with about 20 students utilizing Cardinal Care’s services. Since then, almost 200 students have been able to receive mental health care services.

Shannon Larson is the Mental Health Navigator for the program.

“Our students are struggling with the pandemic and going back and forth going virtual and coming back in-person,” Larson said.

Larson says these services have been especially helpful with everything going on with COVID-19.

“A lot of anxiety, depression are typical things that we’re seeing right now,” Larson said “So, being able to provide them therapy right in their school setting throughout the day, they’re not having to leave school and miss more school.”

Cardinal Care also started up a parent coaching program to help their kids while waiting for counseling services to have an open spot.

Parent coaching involves hands-on strategies to help improve your child’s behavior.

“Due to the pandemic, therapists are full and there are waiting lists which we aren’t used to having here in Chippewa and so a lot of our parents are utilizing the parent coaching sessions while they’re waiting for a counseling session to open up,” Ganske said.

Parent coaching involves hands-on strategies to help improve your child’s behavior.

Cardinal Care is in year three of year five of its AWARE grant. When the grant is over, Ganske says the hope is to be funded by the district, but will still pursue other grant options.

To learn more about Cardinal Care, click here.

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