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table display Johnson County Mental Health

First co-responder to work in a school district

For the first time, Johnson County Mental Health will embed a co-responder into a Johnson County school district. Gardner Edgerton Unified School District 231 will have a co-responder work full time in the district to provide immediate assistance to students in need during a crisis situation. The position will be filled in July 2019.

“We are excited to be able to offer this support and service to our students and their families and our staff members. We are thankful for the relationship that has been developed between USD 231 and Johnson County Mental Health Center. By partnering together, we are better able to meet the needs of our community," said USD 231 Superintendent Pam Stranathan.

On May 6, the Gardner Edgerton school board voted to approve a memorandum of understanding with Johnson County for the full-time clinical co-responder. The Johnson County Board of County Commissioners approved the memorandum of understanding on Thursday, May 2. The arrangement is for a one-year pilot, with the potential to expand to other school districts in the county. The county will continue to develop and track key performance indicators to determine if the pilot is a success.

“We are pleased to be able to partner with a school district in this way,” said Johnson County Mental Health Center Director Tim DeWeese, “It takes the community working together to end the stigma and start the necessary conversations about mental health in teens and adolescents.”

The school board approved a partnership to support the position during the 2019 – 2020 school year. Johnson County Board of County Commissioners approved the rest of the funding for the position using both mental health funding sources and some county tax support.

The Co-Responder Program began in 2011, with a pilot with the city of Olathe Police Department. Now, most communities in Johnson County have a co-responder embedded within their police department.