A local lawmaker is working to secure funding for a pilot project in the Mankato School District that would increase mental health support for at risk youth.

The project would be administered by Blue Earth County Human Services to implement functional family therapy for students from 11 to 18-years old. Therapy would take place in homes, juvenile correctional facilities and at schools in the district.

House Representative Clark Johnson (D-North Mankato) says he’s working on the bill with fellow area lawmakers, House Representative Jack Considine (D-Mankato) and Senator Nick Frentz (D-North Mankato).

“It really builds on a collaboration in the Mankato area that dates back to 1995 and it’s been very successful. They approached us and said, we want to help our kids a step further, beyond the schools and help us work more closely with them and their families.”

Rep. Clark Johnson

Johnson adds that what strikes him about the proposal is that the School District has the capacity to provide the therapy and will be able to show the rest of the state how to do it.

“You watch how things get done in the Mankato area, collaborations develop amongst them. Across sectors, across professional lines. But people work towards a goal and so working with trouble youth in that fashion is a goal that I believe they can meet.”

Staff members are employed by the school district and juvenile correctional facilities, with the pilot project slated to fund three additional full-time equivalent licensed mental health professionals.

“They’ve identified kids that need some additional help, but the idea is to be more comprehensive in the approach and of course draw across different lines. This involves everything from the schools, to healthcare, to law enforcement and that sort of thing. It’s really a powerful opportunity for Minnesota to deal with troubled youth.”

The proposal includes 465-thousand dollars worth of funding from the General Fund in 2019.