Mental Health Task Force To Examine Ways To Address Needs Of Children

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A task force jointly chaired by Anne Arundel County Public Schools and county staff members will begin examining ways to continue to address the social and emotional needs of children.

Members of the task force will include students, parents, community groups, mental health experts, and county and school system representatives. The membership list will be finalized in the coming weeks by co-chairs Ryan Voegtlin, AACPS’ director of student services, and Adrienne Mickler, executive director of the Anne Arundel County Mental Health Agency.

The group was established by a vote of the Board of Education at its May 15 meeting. It will begin meeting in September and present a report to the Board of Education in May 2020. The task force’s goals are to:

•Identify contributing factors to the increasing mental health needs of our children

•Better coordinate services and communication between and among the school system, county government and service providers

•Identify proactive measures and best practices

•Make recommendations for improved delivery of services to children and families

The group’s initial meeting in September will be open to the public, but no public testimony will be taken. Subsequent meetings will be scheduled for November, January and March.

The task force will seek to identify various factors leading to the increase in mental health issues among children, recognize services both in and out of school to assist students needing mental health support, determine areas for greater collaboration, and identify changes in areas such as parenting trends, community activities and resources, educational practices, and the environment that could lead to a steady reduction in mental health issues. Its work will include:

•Developing an overview of services provided through AACPS and Anne Arundel County government agencies

•Conducting a gap analysis

•Providing recommendations for next steps

The task force may form subcommittees to further some of its work.

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