The Alberta government will be providing more than $87 million over three years to improve mental health access and rehabilitation supports for children and youth.
In a statement on Thursday, the province said the funding is essential to improve in-school supports and pediatric rehabilitation supports for children and youth.
The funding is in addition to the government’s investment of up to $10 million per year for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 school years to support specialized assessments for students who may not have had access during the pandemic.
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“Every child and youth has the opportunity to improve their mental health as part of a recovery-oriented system of care,” Mike Ellis, associate minister of mental health and addictions, said during a news conference on Thursday.
“We’re ensuring kids have the supports they need in schools to live healthy and happy lives.”
Around $42 million over three years will be used to increase access to in-school resources, which will be available starting this school year to communities in Calgary and Edmonton.
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This will include establishing new mental health classrooms, which will provide specialized clinical services for students with more complex needs, the province said.
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These classroom teams will include a mental health therapist, psychiatrist and classroom behavioural specialist. They will be supported by a health team that includes a nurse, social worker, educational psychologist, speech and language therapist, and an occupational therapist.
These classrooms will be established first in select schools in Edmonton zone, and the province says it will create more throughout Alberta.
“Some children need more help, further highlighting in-school supports are for children’s well-being,” Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said on Thursday.
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Another $45 million over three years will be used to improve pediatric rehabilitation services.
Rehabilitation services include programs for speech, occupational therapy and physical therapy.
The Alberta government said the funding will support four services:
- Establishing clear intake, triage and access to services.
- Developing universal and targeted resources and programming for families.
- Expanding eligibility for speech sound delays and disorders and mobility and positioning from birth to 18 years.
- Strengthening pediatric rehabilitation and teams to support care across the continuum.
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