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Ashley Staeck

Ashley Staeck is a community program associate for the Johnson Foundation. / SUBMITTED PHOTO

SUBMITTED PHOTO

WIND POINT — A group of mental health care providers has been meeting since last summer, coming together in a new way to help local children.

The group is called the Collaborative for Children’s Mental Health and its goal is to get organizations and health care systems working hand-in-hand to reduce the barriers local families face in getting mental health services for their kids.

Improvement is needed because only a small portion of Racine County’s mentally ill children receive care, according to The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread, which initiated the collaborative.

“When children don’t get the mental health services they need, they often end up doing poorly in school. They often end up in juvenile detention. They often end up incurring really high costs if they have to be hospitalized,” said Ashley Staeck, community program associate for The Johnson Foundation, 33 E. 4 Mile Road.

The foundation hopes to abate some of those things by having mental health care providers share information, understand each others’ challenges and find agreement on best practices. Specific issues to be addressed include: lack of coordination among helping agencies; staff and program shortages; high service costs and limited funding; and access issues ranging from a lack of knowledge or transportation to difficulties with insurance or long waiting lists, a Johnson Foundation report shows.

The collaborative will eventually make recommendations on those topics but they’re not in that stage yet, Staeck said.

Collaborative members include private therapists, Wheaton Franciscan-All Saints hospital staff, local school leaders, Racine County Human Services Department staff and many others.

“It’s a very good thing,” said Jonathan Delagrave, the county’s Human Services Department director. “We’re glad to be a partner.”

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