Press Release: Gov. Evers’ “Get Kids Ahead Initiative” Awards $15 Million to Help Nearly Every Wisconsin School District Provide School-Based Mental Health Supports for Kids

Office of Governor Tony Evers
Gov. Evers' Get Kids Ahead Initiative Awards $15 Million to Help Nearly Every Wisconsin School District Provide School-Based Mental Health Support for Kids
MILWAUKEE  Gov. Tony Evers today announced nearly every school district across the state, including more than 450 local education agencies, will be awarded funds through the governors $15 million Get Kids Ahead initiative, as announced during his 2022 State of the State addressSchools will be able to use these funds to provide direct mental healthcare, hire and support mental health navigators, provide mental health first aid and trauma-based care training, or provide family assistance programs. 

We know that long before the pandemic hit, kids across our state were already facing immense challenges with their mental health, but as parents and educators are seeing firsthand, these challenges have only been made worse by the isolating and traumatic events of the past two years, said Gov. Evers. These funds will go directly towards whatever mental health support and services our kids need so they can be successful both in and out of the classroom to help them grow, learn, and get ahead.

Every public school district in the state was eligible to opt in to receive these funds and was guaranteed to receive a minimum of $10,000. The remainder of the funds were allocated on a per-pupil basis. A breakdown of funding by local education agency is available here.*  

This funding to support student mental health is already going out the door and making a difference in the lives of Wisconsin’s children,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Jill Underly. “I commend the governor for his leadership, and for ensuring that this funding was both flexible enough for schools to access it effectively and intentional enough that it is truly addressing students’ needs.

The coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated the pressing need for additional or improved student health services related to mental and behavioral health, and todays announcement builds on the governors investments to support student mental health as the state recovers from COVID-19. In the 2021-23 biennial budget, the governor initially proposed $53.5 million for student mental health services, but the Legislature reduced the combined funding to a $19 million increase. And in December 2021, Gov. Evers delivered on a promise he made when he signed the biennial budget by providing an additional $110 million to support kids and schools that could be used by schools for anything kids needed to be successful, including mental health supports and more educational and extracurricular opportunities.

Additionally, last week, Gov. Evers announced a $5 million investment to make telehealth services, including mental and behavioral health services, more accessible by creating two $2.5 million grant programs for providers to expand and enhance child psychiatry telehealth services and partner with community organizations to establish neighborhood telehealth access points at food pantries, homeless shelters, libraries, long-term care facilities, community centers, and schools for people with limited access to technology and reliable internet service. 

*Note that three tribally-controlled schools in Wisconsin eligible to receive these funds are not included in this list. 
An online version of this release is available here.