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WRAP mental health program will continue in Lawrence school district

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Students in the Lawrence school district will continue to have the support of an in-school mental and behavioral health program following uncertainty about a funding source for the 2022-23 school year, according to Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center.

Douglas County supports the Working to Realize Alternative Possibilities program, or WRAP, financially, and in 2018 voters approved a quarter-cent sales tax to expand behavioral health support services, including WRAP. But the city of Lawrence withdrew its funding for WRAP for next school year.

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School officials and mental health support advocates were still left needing to fill a gap between $350,000 and $400,000, according to Jeff Burkhead, communications manager for Bert Nash. Patrick Schmitz, CEO of Bert Nash, said last week that the center was looking into every possible option to fill that gap.

On Friday, the center announced that “a long-term solution has been found for sustainable funding to continue the program at its current level and to expand services that are provided to students.”

Get mental health help in Lawrence

These resources are available 24/7 if you or someone you know needs immediate mental health help:

• Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center: 785-843-9192
• Kansas Suicide Prevention HQ (formerly Headquarters): 785-841-2345
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 (TALK); veterans, press 1

“The County will continue its tremendous investment in the WRAP program,” Schmitz said in the update. “And earlier this week, Lawrence Public Schools has agreed to partner with Bert Nash Center to embrace the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) model. This model will allow us to bring more resources to our community to support the WRAP program. As a result of these changes and agreements, no positions will be eliminated in the WRAP program.”

Bert Nash is in the process of becoming a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic, according to the update.

Gov. Laura Kelly signed a bill in April 2021 that establishes a new CCBHC model for providing behavioral health services in Kansas. The Kansas Reflector reported in June that “One section of the legislation requires state agencies to certify 26 community-based mental health centers as behavioral health clinics within three years and set new rates for the services they provide. The state estimates this investment eventually will total $74 million annually.”

“This change is bigger than the WRAP program alone in that it pertains to a much wider array of mental health services to our youth within the school setting, including behavioral health supports and case management,” Schmitz said in the post from Bert Nash. “In fact, we anticipate that in the coming years, we will be able to expand the resources deployed to the schools throughout Douglas County.”

Lawrence Public Schools Superintendent Anthony Lewis said in the post that “Bert Nash’s WRAP specialists complement the support our school mental health and student services teams provide students and link school families to the community resources they need.”

WRAP provides a licensed, master’s-level clinician employed by Bert Nash within the district’s two high schools, four middle schools and six elementaries: Cordley, New York, Pinckney, Prairie Park, Sunflower and Woodlawn. The program is also offered at the Juvenile Detention Center, Bishop Seabury Academy, and the school districts of Baldwin, Eudora and Perry-Lecompton. It’s in its 25th year.

Read more about the program in our article from April 1.

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