‘It’s been a game changer’

Branson takes proactive approach in student mental health

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School districts are doing more for students and families these days than ever and Branson is no exception.

In 2018, Branson School District received a two-year, $86,000 grant to expand mental health services for students. The Skaggs Legacy Endowment grant allowed the district to add a part-time case manager and gave the district funds to provide professional mental health counseling services to students who otherwise could not afford these vital services.

Since that time, the program has evolved. The district’s current grant from Skaggs Foundation continues to fund the part-time case manager and a separate Skaggs Legacy Endowment grant, this one to Burrell Behavioral Health, funds counseling sessions for any uninsured or underinsured student in Stone or Taney counties, include Branson students.

“It’s been a game changer,” said Lisa Furtkamp, who splits her time as the part-time case manager and social worker for the district. “The amount of self-harm and suicidal ideations has increased so much in just the past five years. This grant gives us a chance to get these kids the help they need.”

DeAnna Sheets, director of curriculum, assessment and federal programs, said today, more than 7 percent of Branson students are receiving some form of school based mental health service and more students are being referred for counseling each week.   

That’s where Furtkamp comes in; she works with parents to see that necessary paperwork gets filled out, helping to expedite services for students. She even goes as far as meeting the parents to pick up paperwork or arrange rides for the families for in-person intakes.

For children who do not qualify for Medicaid, do not have private insurance or are underinsured, Skaggs Foundation’s grant to Burrell Behavioral Health fills in that gap. The grant provides a funding source for services for those students, ensuring no student is denied services due to the inability to pay.

“With Lisa’s work and these grants, we are removing barriers so students can receive necessary services,” Sheets said.

In 2020, Skaggs Foundation awarded 25 Skaggs Legacy Endowment grants, including the mental health grants to Branson School District and Burrell Behavioral Health.

Since 2013, the foundation has awarded more than $5.9 million in grants to organizations improving health and wellness in Stone and Taney counties. Skaggs Foundation is accepting grant applications and letters of intent now through 5 p.m. April 30. Visit our grants page to learn more about opportunities available through Skaggs Legacy Endowment.

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