Wisconsin’s “Get Kids Ahead Initiative:” Support your school’s mental health plan with FAST

March 2, 2022

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers and Superintendent Jill Underly recently announced the Get Kids Ahead Initiative: one-time funding available to all Wisconsin public and independent charter schools to bolster student and staff mental health. Their joint letter is copied below.

We are excited to share that all public and independent charter schools will soon have access to increased funding to help build a comprehensive school mental health system: a continuum of services and supports to promote student and staff mental health through our Get Kids Ahead Initiative.

In recognition of stakeholder feedback and the range of capacities and needs across Wisconsin schools, we know there is no “one size fits all” solution to improving student access to mental health services, and that any increased funding needs to be awarded through a streamlined process.

The Get Kids Ahead Initiative is not a competitive grant program. All public school districts and independent charter schools are eligible, and each district will receive a per-pupil allocation ranging from the minimum award of $10,000 to much higher awards for districts with large student populations. To access the funding, districts will need to sign a form to opt into the program and to attest that the funds will be used for allowable purposes.

As the program is designed to address systemic challenges that schools encounter, promoting wellbeing and building a proactive system that serves all students, these funds include many allowable mental health related activities, including the following:

  • Training for staff in mental health-related programs and initiatives including Youth Mental Health First Aid, Compassion Resilience, and Trauma Sensitive Schools

  • Mental Health Evidence-Based Improvement Strategies (EBIS)

  • Mental Health Literacy for students and adults

  • Stigma Reduction programs

  • Contracting with community mental health providers, consultants, organizations, CESAs, and other expertsto provide consultation, training, mentoring, and coaching

  • Parent training and informational events

  • Student and Family Assistance Programs

  • School-employed mental health professionals accessible to all students

  • Mental Health Navigators

School personnel may access the program attestation portal here: https://wi.accessgov.com/doa-wi/Forms/Page/ doa-wi/gka-app/. Please email any questions to getmhs@dpi.wi.gov. We will provide additional information about technical assistance for the Get Kids Ahead Initiative in late March 2022.

Check out this comprehensive FAQ by the Department of Public Instruction for more information about the Initiative and how to opt in.

FAST® can support your plan to build a comprehensive school mental health system as part of this funding. Please contact Executive Director Toni Rivera at trivera@familiesandschools.org or call (608) 663-2382 to learn more about our programs and opportunities for partnership.