Madison, Wisconsin – Governor Scott Walker delivered remarks today at the Kids in Crisis Series highlighting the actions his administration has taken to ensure the mental and physical health of Wisconsin’s children. Kids in Crisis, a call to action event hosted by the USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin, coincides with National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day.

“The health, safety, and well-being of Wisconsin’s most vulnerable – our children – is a top priority for us,” Governor Walker said. “I applaud USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin for raising awareness about the important issue of children’s mental health and organizing today’s event to encourage a statewide dialogue about what can be done to improve the lives of children throughout our state. Our most recent budget proposal makes significant investment to improve mental health services in schools, create a treatment center for kids in crisis, and support the Office of Children’s Mental Health. We remain committed to protecting Wisconsin’s most vulnerable and will continue to address the root cause of mental health issues so we can provide our children the support and care they need.”

USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin has been writing about youth mental health through a series called Kids in Crisis as a result of high youth suicide rates in Wisconsin. The series launched last year and will continue through 2017. Today’s event is a call to action to highlight progress and spur further action. This is the second year of reporting, and the primary focus is how young brains are damaged by adverse childhood experiences, which makes them more vulnerable to mental health challenges. So far this year, 10 town hall meetings have been held, during which more than 700 people received life-saving suicide prevention training called Question. Persuade. Refer. (QPR).

Governor Walker’s 2017-2019 budget proposal includes the following provisions to support Wisconsin’s children:

  • $6.5 million to improve and expand mental health services in schools. This funding greatly increases the ability of public schools to address student mental health issues. Governor Walker’s budget proposal establishes three new programs, which were requested by the Department of Public Instruction (DPI).
  • $3 million in fiscal year 2018-2019 to support school social work expenditures.This includes $2.5 million to expand community partnerships with schools so students can receive treatment on or off campus. $1 million would also go towards training school staff members to recognize students suffering from mental health issues and how to react.
  • $2.5 million in fiscal year 2018-2019 to support school and community health collaborations.
  • $491,300 in fiscal year 2017-2018 and $514,100 in fiscal year 2018-2019, as well as one full-time employee (FTE) position to support training for school employees in Trauma-Informed Care (TIC).
  • $249,100 in fiscal year 2017-2018 and $996,400 in fiscal year 2018-2019 to develop an eight-bed Crisis Treatment and Stabilization Facility for children to improve outcomes of children in crisis. The facility will be community-based and provide mental health services to children. Additionally, the facility will improve clinical outcomes while also reducing the number of institutional admissions at Winnebago Mental Health Institute.
  • $10,000 in fiscal year 2017-2018 and $10,000 in fiscal year 2018-2019 for the Office of Children’s Mental Health to reimburse individuals for travel costs associated with attending meetings to include people with lived experience in the decision-making process.

Governor Walker’s budget proposal builds upon previous investments in children’s mental health. His 2015-2017 budget redesigned Wisconsin’s juvenile community supervision to provide services based on a juvenile’s individual risks and needs, increased access to mental health care for rural residents by providing remote access to services, and provided financial assistance to counties so they could establish robust crisis service programs. Governor Walker’s 2013-2015 budget provided $30 million in GPR to expand state-funded services to adults and children diagnosed with mental illness, expanded targeted community-based care provided by the Comprehensive Community Services program statewide, and established an Office of Children’s Mental Health.

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