OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- The Blue Valley School District will have additional help this school year to ensure the 22,000 students they care for will have access to counseling and other services.
"We see this as a chance for kids to get their legs under them. To really enable them to be prepared to make the most of their future," Mark Schmidt, Assistant Superintendent of Student Services, said.
Blue Valley has partnered with Children's Mercy Hospital to provide 19 social workers across 37 school buildings for the upcoming school year.
"As we thing about students with the highest level of need, if we can make sure that they are able to come to school and be comfortable coming into the building, students can attend class, experience more success, to have another person that can connect to our students," Schmidt said.
Carey Spain, Director of Social Work Care Continuum, said the social workers main job will be working alongside school counselors to help students face the growing pressures that make learning difficult.
"I think bringing these social workers to the district is going to allow teachers to do their job, to be more effective, keep the kids in the classroom, keep them focused on what they need to be doing, and have optimal academic outcomes," Spain said.
The $650,000 bill for the social workers will be covered by the school district's general fund. Meaning students and families will owe nothing to get the help and relief they seek.
"This is beneficial for the students because they spend an awful lot of time at school so it makes sense to bring these services to the school," Spain said.
The real benefit may just be the peace of mind this additional help will provide for students.
"The students can self refer themselves, parents can refer their children to the social worker but through the care team process, the team will decide if a social worker will be most beneficial to a student." Schmidt said, "It always comes back to how are we going to serve that whole child, how are we going to make sure that students are ready to succeed after they leave our school district."
The agreement will last for at least one school year and administrators will reevaluated the program the following summer.