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Butler County To See New Funding For Mental Health Services In Preschools


The state of Ohio recently allotted $9.1 million to fund mental health services for kids kindergarten age and younger. It’s all part of a larger effort to prevent these kids from getting expelled or suspended from school.

Bari Krause works with children at risk of expulsion as a mental health care counselor for Catholic Charities of Southwestern Ohio.  

Last week, she worked with a 2-year-old who was having a hard-time listening to his teacher.

“I could tell he was just bored out of his head,” said Krause. “This was a kid who was smart, who just really needed to be in the three-year-old room.”

So Krause talked to the teachers and they moved the child up to the next level.

“And they were talking about it but they just needed a stamp of approval,” said Krause.

Krause helps with situations like this in preschools around Butler County.

The latest data shows in some areas of the state, kindergartners get expelled more than high schoolers.  

“From a teacher’s perspective, when you have a child that is really disruptive or is causing harm to other children, your classroom is havoc, frankly,” said Pam Mortensen, who heads the Early Childhood Mental Health program at Catholic Charities. “It’s hard for the other children to learn.”

She says life gets harder for these kids once they’re expelled. They get shuffled from school to school and don’t really learn how to deal with their underlying problems.

The state is trying to tackle the issue by awarding funding for early-childhood mental health care in almost every county in Ohio. Catholic Charities of Southwest Ohio is set to receive about $188,000, one of the largest grants. They’re now planning to expand their program into more schools in Butler County.

Mental health services might not solve the problem entirely though. National data shows black and Hispanic children are suspended from preschools at much higher rates than white children.

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