MacGregor: DHHS budget establishes Student Outreach Services grant program to improve mental health services in schools

Sen. Peter MacGregor

Sen. Peter MacGregor

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services approved the creation of a Student Outreach Services (SOS) grant program to help address mental health issues and improve school safety throughout the state.

The new $10 million program was included in the department’s fiscal year 2019 budget reported by the committee on Tuesday.

“Improving school safety is a top priority of mine and ensuring effective mental health services are available in our classrooms is a key factor,” said Subcommittee Chairman Sen. Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford. “The SOS grant program is a small, but important part in our efforts to develop a comprehensive school safety plan for our state. I am committed to working closely with my legislative colleagues and the governor’s administration to help be a part of the overall school safety discussion.”

The SOS grant program is modeled after Kent County Intermediate School District’s Kent School Services Network, which has successfully improved the use of mental health services throughout the ISD’s 47 participating schools to better serve students where they are during their school day.

The plan would allow school districts to partner with entities and organizations in their communities — such as counties, local health departments, philanthropic agencies, and mental health service providers — to coordinate and provide responsive and effective mental health services to students and their families in public schools.

MacGregor noted the committee’s $25.1 billion Department of Health and Human Services budget recommendation — the largest of any individual budget — presents a significant savings for taxpayers compared with the department budget recommended by the governor, proposing $25 million less in spending for the fiscal year.

Other noteworthy investments in the budget included:

  • An increase of more than $1 million to the Family Support Subsidy, which provides financial assistance to families that have a child with severe developmental disabilities.
  • An additional $10 million for local public health departments.
  • Concurrence with the governor’s recommendation to annualize funding for the response to Perflouroallkyl Substances, referred to as PFAS, and an additional $50,000 for water sampling in the city of Newberry.
  • A $5 million appropriation for MiDocs, a program to improve rural access to primary care throughout the state.

The bill now advances to the full Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.