A recently signed agreement with Adapt will make way for mental health services for students in the Roseburg School District.
The memorandum of understanding between the school district and Adapt was approved by the school board at its board meeting on Aug. 8 and was signed Tuesday by Adapt officials, paving the way for it to provide core mental health services to students in the district.
The district will make referrals to the school mental health therapist, and Adapt will do assessments, individual and limited family therapy, group therapy, skills training, clinical consultation, medication referrals and crisis response in cases of self harm, suicide or threats to others.
Rick Barton, the director of student services for Roseburg Public Schools, said district officials actively pursued bringing mental health services back into the school district because of the growing need.
“We think by having mental health therapists in the schools, it eliminates a lot of the potential to not be able to get services due to transportation, and it’s more readily available for students that were typically unable to reach meetings,” Barton said.
The projected need is for eight full time therapists, but the district will only be able to get half that number to start the year and will increase it to eight as recruiting allows.
The school year will begin with 1.5 full-time equivalent therapists assigned to Roseburg High School, a part-time person at Rose Elementary School, Fremont Middle School and Jo Lane Middle School. The district will also have a part-time person at Fullerton IV Elementary, which is a site that has some of the district’s specialized programs. There will also be a part-time person at Fir Grove Elementary because of a significant upswing in service needs, Barton said.
Adapt CEO Greg Brigham said what he likes about the program is that it puts the therapists where the kids are.
“It’s important, and there’s a greater need than is currently being served with expanding general capacity and it’s also making access easier by providing it in a setting where kids normally conduct their daily life,” Brigham said.
Roseburg School District Interim Superintendent Robert Freeman said the challenge is to get licensed therapists to come to the area, but he agreed that the need is definitely there. But he added that it’s a nationwide problem, not just in Douglas County.
“We’re asking teachers to continue the rigor of trying to teach academics, and due to lack of qualified personnel to deal with mental health needs, they’re having to try to teach the rigorous academics to students while students are struggling with their own mental health needs so as a district we recognize that to support the entire child we need to tend to their mental health needs as well as their academic needs, and this is an attempt to do that,” Freeman said.
The contract has already started as of Aug. 8, and the district plans to add more therapists as Adapt is able to hire more people.
Adapt will bill insurance and responsible parties for the mental health services that are provided for the students and their families.
“That includes Oregon Health Plan and private insurance,” Barton said. “The funds received from those services should equitably offset the cost of the mental health therapists within the school.”
Barton said in the start-up phase, the district could have a shortfall between funds received for services and the cost of the staff providing the services, until there are enough cases to cover the cost, but when the program is up to full speed, they hope the insurance payments will cover the cost.
The contract is for a year, and will automatically renew in one year increments unless terminated with 60 days written notice.