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Marble Falls Independent School District is entering a memorandum of understanding with the Texas Child Health Access Through Telemedicine (TCHATT) program to provide additional assistance to students with critical mental health needs. The program offers up to five telehealth appointments for students with urgent mental health needs and will be in place within the district by Jan. 1, 2022. 

“This is an extraordinary win for the district,” said Shana Bunch-Fancher, executive director of Special Services, during an Oct. 18 school board meeting. “It’s providing our district with an opportunity to provide mental health services to our students free of charge who may not otherwise get it for several months.”

TCHATT is an access-to-care program geared toward short-term help for students with urgent needs. It is part of the Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium, which is run by the University of Texas System. 

Through the program, mental health professionals can diagnose students, determine medication needs, and work with families to identify local resources available to them. The program does not circumvent the on-campus services provided through the district but rather offers access to care in the time period between school counseling and outside care, Bunch-Fancher told 

“Sometimes, (school counselors) get students who indicate their needs are greater than what we can provide,” Bunch-Fancher said. “If there’s an urgent need for outside counseling, we will go through the appropriate means and try to find out who we can connect them to. But sometimes, after all that, there may be a month, or maybe even two, where they’re waiting to get in for an appointment. That can be a critical time for some, so this program serves as a stop-gap for that in-between time.”  

District employees will go through training to learn the mechanics of the program, who qualifies, and how to schedule appointments for students. Examples of qualifying students include those experiencing escalated COVID-19-related depression or students with a history of aggression that are facing an increased number of disciplinary infractions. 

To learn more about the program, visit the Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium’s website.