The Georgetown ISD board of trustees approved an agreement with Lone Star Circle of Care on Sept. 16 that would add a behavioral health position at East View High School as part of a pilot program that could expand mental health services in the district.
LSCC, a nonprofit organization based in Georgetown that offers primary health care services to patients including those who are under-insured and uninsured, will provide a licensed therapist to work on the campus and provide counseling and psychotherapy services.
"Lone Star Circle of Care has established this model of school-engaged behavioral health services in other local school districts including Austin ISD," LSCC Chief Medical Officer Tamarah Duperval-Brownlee said in a statement. "This model has been incredibly successful with proven and evidenced-based results including reduced truancy and improved academic performance for students who utilize the services."
Services are expected to begin Sept. 23. The office will be open year round Mon.–Fri. 8 a.m.–5 p.m. with the exception of holidays when the school district is closed.
Lone Star Circle of Care is funding the program, and the Georgetown Healthcare Special Asset Foundation provided a $50,000 grant to help pay a portion of the costs for the services at EVHS for the first year, according to a news release. GHSAF is an affiliate of the Georgetown Health Foundation.
"One area of health services that is woefully lacking, not only in public schools but in cities and counties, is mental health," Superintendent Joe Dan Lee said. "We just don't have staff trained to address some of the mental health issues that some of our students come to school with these days, and we've partnered with Lone Star to try to offer some of those services to our students."
Students may be referred for sessions by nurses, counselors or staff members. Parents and students will also be able to schedule appointments with the therapist, and parental consent will be required for students younger than 18 unless a student is declared an unaccompanied minor, according to the release.
Sessions may be held during school hours, and family sessions with parents or other family members may be held as needed, according to the release.
Rebekah Haynes, LSCC director of communications, said there may be a fee for sessions based on the student's insurance coverage. For students without insurance, who do not qualify for any public programs, such as Medicaid, discounted fees will be available based on the healthcare provider's sliding fee scale, which is determined according to each family's income.
"The opportunity to add Lone Star Circle of Care behavioral services to help our families seemed perfect to investigate as an option for our district. Many conversations about our care needs evolved into the program we are asking you to give final approval to tonight," said Mary McKenna, GISD director of Health and Safety Services, to the board.
McKenna said based on the results of the pilot program, the same services may be offered at other campuses in the future.
"It's our hope that this is as successful as we think it will be, and it will be a program that we can expand to other campuses as need arises," Lee said. "This is something that is not replacing anything that we are doing. It is enhancing what we are doing and allowing us to offer additional services that are not available at our campus today."