July 1, 2024

Kansas Awarded $2.5M School-Based Health Services Grant

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) announced June 26 the exciting news that KanCare, the state’s Medicaid program, has secured a $2.5 million grant awarded by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for the implementation of School-Based Services (SBS).

The Health Fund was proud to support KDHE in its effort to secure the grant and will continue partnering with stakeholders to improve access to mental health care services in Kansas.

This grant will enable Kansas to access federal dollars to facilitate the integration of comprehensive health services within schools, ensuring students have better access to necessary care. The grant will help the state access ongoing Medicaid dollars to sustain the provision of vital health services in schools, and underscores KDHE’s dedication to enhancing the health care services available in Kansas schools, including those related to mental health.

“We are grateful for CMS’s support in our efforts to connect more children with the health care services they need right where they learn,” KDHE Deputy Secretary for Agency Integration and Medicaid Director Christine Osterlund said. “This grant is a testament to our dedication to the health and well-being of our young citizens, who are the future of our state.”

This grant will help bolster mental health services in schools and help equip schools’ capacity to meet students’ needs. Supporting youth mental health and increasing access to mental health services makes a huge difference in the lives of our children and is important to Kansans, as we heard last fall during a series of rural health community conversations across the state.

Data from Kansas Communities that Care surveys shows an increase in recent years in the percentage of students and young adults experiencing hopelessness and sadness that lead to ending participation in activities, a key indicator of mental health concerns.

Addressing youth mental health needs through expanding existing school-based pilots and enhancing services in schools is one of the themes we heard consistently during those community conversations. Especially in rural communities, where national research highlights it can be much tougher to get care, availability of school-based services can help ensure students are able to timely access needed help.

Recognizing the importance of ensuring access for youth, many Kansas communities are piloting school-based services, but without consistent funding those programs remain at risk. The CMS grant will provide sustainable financing by enabling Kansas to update Medicaid payment policies to allow schools to receive federal reimbursement for mental health services delivered in schools to Medicaid enrolled students.

This grant and the program and policy changes it will lead to are transformative. The Health Fund is proud to have partnered with the team at KDHE on this effort to ensure healthier Kansas children and families. The program and grant will lead to:

  • Enrollment assistance to help eligible students and their families access Medicaid coverage.
  • Provision of a broad array of Medicaid-covered health services directly within schools.
  • Enhanced outreach and educational efforts to promote the health and wellness of students, reducing the need for emergency care and boosting educational outcomes.

As noted in a CMS SBS resource for states, school-based services play an important role in the health of children and adolescents. Although schools are primarily providers of education-related activities, the school setting offers a unique opportunity to enroll children in Medicaid and facilitate access to coverage as well as provide health services directly to Medicaid enrolled children. Schools provide a venue to enhance early identification of health needs and connect students to a broad range of health care services, including behavioral health resources. School-based services can help promote health and educational equity and increase school attendance, including by:

  1. Helping eligible students enroll in Medicaid program.
  2. Connecting students’ Medicaid-eligible family members with Medicaid health coverage.
  3. Providing Medicaid-covered health services in schools and enabling payment for services furnished.
  4. Supporting at-risk Medicaid eligible students.
  5. Improving student wellness.
  6. Reducing emergency room visits.
  7. Promoting a healthy environment and promoting learning

This award reflects a robust partnership between federal and state governments and strengthens the state’s commitment to not only meeting educational needs but also the physical and mental health requirements of young Kansans.

We’re excited to see how this effort will improve access to school based mental health in Kansas and improve the health of future generations of Kansans.

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