The link between physical and mental health and the success of children in school is well researched and documented. In Fall 2016, MSBA convened a School-Based Health Center Task Force comprised of school districts from across the state that represented the diversity in Missouri schools. Collectively, these school districts identified the unmet health care needs of their students and the barriers that existed that made it difficult or impossible to address those needs within their community. Mental health services and supports were the most frequently identified unmet needs in every region and size of community throughout the state.

Over the next two years, MSBA worked closely with school districts, state agencies and community health providers exploring a state-wide model that would have a variety of options of services, health providers, and funding sources to meet the unique health care needs of children and families in their local schools and communities. Through increased opportunities for new collaborative relationships between state agencies, schools and community mental and physical health providers, Missourians are building a brighter future for their children.

As a result of the work of the Task Force, the Department of Social Services has new policy allowing community behavioral/mental health providers to provide services in the school setting when a school district determines it is appropriate to do so. In addition, the policy allows for schools to provide behavioral health services to additional children, without disabilities under the IDEA, and bill for those services, as appropriate. MSBA convened a Behavioral Health Workgroup, comprised of a diverse group of stakeholders, to develop the MO Guidelines to Implementing Behavioral Health Supports in School, to help districts understand the policy and the opportunities it affords. These guidelines and related resources are accessible on this webpage.

In order to sustain the efforts of so many in creating new possibilities for school-based health centers in Missouri as a long-term solution to improving the health and mental wellbeing of children and youth, MSBA is posting the many resources originally made available to the Task Force members, for all to access.

In addition, MSBA has contributed to the creation of a Missouri affiliate to the National School-Based Health Alliance. This affiliation—Show-Me School-Based Health Alliance— will provide to Missouri schools a ready source of researched practices and technical supports to ensure effective partnerships between schools and community health providers resulting in sustainable health care services within Missouri schools.

Behavioral Health Workgroup

In April 2018, the Missouri Department of Social Services, MO HealthNet Division, released a bulletin titled Behavioral Health Services in the School Setting. The policy change addressed new opportunities for schools, families and community behavioral health providers to increase access to quality behavioral health services in the schools. Statewide leaders believe this policy change will lead to improved academic achievement and brighter futures for Missouri’s children.

Behavioral Health Resources


Please contact Dr. Kim Ratcliffe, Associate Executive Director, Medicaid and Student Services, at
573-239-3722, or


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