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Health and Welfare

Eastern Kentucky organization works to connect kids with mental health care over summer break

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School may be out for many kids across the Commonwealth, but that doesn’t mean they’re on their own when it comes to school based mental health care. In eastern Kentucky, several school systems team up with Kentucky River Community Care, or KRCC, to provide counseling, therapy, and social services over the summer break.

KRCC sends qualified therapists to summer school programs and summer camps. They also organize field trips for kids during the summer.

Amber Maggard is Division Director for Children and Family Services at KRCC. She sees these programs as bridging the gap.

“For a lot of kids and families, school is really the only social interaction that they get. So by reaching out to the home and making sure that they are involved in summer programming, in summer activities, that we’re keeping an eye on them,” said Maggard.

KRCC also offers telehealth through its partnerships with schools in the service region.

Maggard said before the pandemic, they struggled to keep in touch with kids over the summer.

“If the child wasn't attending summer school, and they chose not to attend our summer camp, then it was really trying to get up with the parent able to, like do a home visit if we could reach them. And sometimes we couldn't reach them at all. And as a provider, that makes me a little nervous,” said Maggard.

Maggard explained telehealth helps KRCC staff keep in contact with nearly their entire case load of more than a thousand students in their service region. Maggard said that number is slightly down from before the pandemic, when they served 1,500 to 1,800 students at a time. Maggard said KRCC is focused now on connecting more kids who need help to services in the region.

Kentucky River Community Care serves Breathitt, Knott, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Owsley, Perry and Wolfe counties.

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