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916 expands chemical health services

In the fall of 2016, Northeast Metro 916 began a partnership with the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation to begin a first-of-its-kind chemical health program designed to provide ongoing support for students who are struggling with substance abuse and addiction.

When Kate Roselle began as the licensed clinician, she focused on chemical use evaluations, referrals, education, and staff training in the three 916 area learning centers (ALCs) and several special education programs. Now, the program has expanded its reach while narrowing its focus to better support ALCs and member districts.

“Success to me means being able to help students get the right services at the right time,” said Cindy Doth, who was hired as a second full-time clinician in January. She says that sometimes students are not open to formal treatment, but will meet individually with clinicians. “When we start to build those relationships early, we are better positioned to intervene before they drop out of school, leave home, or have legal difficulties.”

The program has certainly been successful. Together, Cindy and Kate have 90 students on their caseloads, from 916’s three ALCs, as well as Mahtomedi High School, Stillwater High School, and a few non-member district schools. The program has been so successful that the grant funding that initially jump-started the program is no longer needed, because 916 and Hazelden have commited sustaining the program long-term on their own.

The focus on ALCs and general education settings doesn’t mean that students with special needs are left out. Canvas Health continues to offer chemical health services to students in special education programs through an innovation grant provided by the Minnesota legislature.

When Hazelden reached out asking to add another member district, more than half of member districts responded. Dan Porter, lead social worker in the district who who originally came up with the concept and help write the grant with Hazelden to get the program started, hopes it continues to expand. “My vision is to keep adding more schools, and more positions to support students’ needs,” he said.