LAKE LUZERNE — Hadley-Luzerne is the latest school district planning to bring in an outside health provider to provide school-based counseling services.
School officials are working to establish an office for a representative from the Albany-based Parsons Child and Family Center to work with local students and families. Parsons, which is a subsidiary of the Northern Rivers Council, provides a variety of services including behavioral health, family support, education and residential and foster care.
Superintendent Beecher Baker said students have a variety of emotional needs and this is a crucial part of the puzzle.
“Early intervention is the key,” he said.
He mentioned that the school shooter in Parkland, Florida earlier this year faced mental health issues.
Baker said the goal is to have services in house that go beyond the guidance counselor and social worker. Additional services are not readily accessible in the North Country.
“We’ll have a satellite office, which will allow people to not have to travel as far to get to these facilities,” he said.
The district has to provide the office space and Parsons will provide the rest, according to Baker.
“It’s a no-brainer,” he said.
The cost of the program is still being determined.
Other districts have been adding school-based mental health clinics as the need has grown. Cambridge Central School has had a program with Parsons since the spring of 2017. The Mary McClellan Hospital Foundation provided a $20,000 grant to help start the program. The cost was $21,100 for the first year.
Superintendent Vincent Canini said the program has been up and running since last May. The district had included funding in the budget for the 2016-17 school year, but it took awhile to get approval from the state Department of health.
About 44 families are participating in the program, according to the district.
“We’ve been at full capacity since last fall,” Canini said.
The services are not limited to mental health counseling, Canini added. The staff person from Parsons is based at the building and is able to counsel students and their families.
“It’s become more of a need over the last several years, so it’s nice to be able to have something where the student and the family don’t have to travel to Glens Falls or Saratoga or wherever,” he said.
Queensbury has had a program with Parsons since the fall of 2015.