The Denver City Council voted Monday to spend $861,000 in federal money to add behavioral health positions to Denver Public Schools.
The money will be used to provide behavioral health-related programming for youth, including a community liaison program, staffing pipeline and a Wellness Winnie team. Wellness Winnie is a recreational vehicle that offers mental health services.
“Denver's Department of Public Health and Environment, through the Community and Behavioral Health Division, is contracting (using ARPA funding) with organizations based in the community to address and abate behavioral health concerns described in the Denver Behavioral Health Needs Assessment including coordination, education, and services, among others,” according to a memo from city staff to the City Council.
Identifying obstacles to learning
The contract spans through July 31, 2024. The community liaison program will “assist Denver Public Schools students and families to identify issues that create obstacles to learning and connect them with culturally responsive and linguistically specific resources to address those issues,” according to the memo.
Eight full-time equivalent community liaison positions “will support attendance and serve as a point for assessing students’ needs and connecting them (and their families) with city and community resources,” the memo explains, adding the positions “will be integrated with the work of the Denver Public Schools mental health team” and “will work in coordination with each other and other like positions in the Denver Public Schools system to create a district-wide impact.”
The community liaison will encourage applicants for school psychologists and nurses. The liaison “will provide opportunities and funding to support those interested in getting licensure to move into higher paid, high-demand behavioral health roles,” according to the memo.
Stipends will be offered to those who participate in the program. Denver Public Schools will determine the best university programs with which to partner.