Center for Child & Family Wellness

The Center for Child and Family Wellness at the Meadows Institute dramatically expanded its work in 2022, particularly in West Texas, North Texas, and San Antonio, directly responding to the growing youth mental health crisis and the urgent demand for services exacerbated by the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the aftermath of the Uvalde tragedy.

In Midland and across the Permian Basin, the team’s ongoing efforts to expand Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) in local schools – designed to meet the behavioral, social, emotional, and mental health needs of students – continued to bear fruit. The eight pilot schools in Midland that began implementing MTSS in 2021 have seen declines in major office discipline referrals, in-school suspensions, and out-of-school suspensions. In 2022, the Center expanded MTSS support to 27 other schools and further increased access to care in the pilot schools to include more intensive support for students who need it. Midland ISD is now serving as a state and national model for how to implement a comprehensive school mental health system focused on evidence-based practices.

In addition, we developed a strategic framework to guide the implementation of mental and behavioral health activities in the schools and districts supported by the Region 18 Education Service Center (ESC), which includes Midland and provides a variety of services customized to the region’s needs. This framework will guide their activities related to engaging, supporting, and training staff in schools and at the district level.

We also supported ESC staff as they continued implementing our 2021 recommendations, building internal capacity to provide training in-house, supporting MISD schools in scaling up their work, and enabling MTSS training in other districts in the region.

With the support of funders including Abell-Hanger Foundation, Scharbauer Foundation, The Henry Foundation, Carl B. & Florence E. King Foundation, Yarborough Foundation, and Chevron, MTSS is poised to continue making a major impact on the mental health and academic success of Midland students and students across the Permian Basin for years to come.

In North Texas, we worked with partners, including Texas Health Resources and Kozmetsky Family Foundation, that recognized a need for better collaboration and skills training among local district leaders. In response, the Center kicked off a project in North Texas to help K-12 and higher education leaders learn to better support mental well-being among students and educators.

The North Texas School Mental Health Executive Learning Community was a year-long learning experience for school leaders in 19 school districts across Dallas County. Participating districts represented 647 schools, almost 57,000 educators, and nearly half a million students across North Texas. As a result of the project’s success, four additional school mental health learning communities will be held across the state in 2023. The Center also worked with Grand Prairie ISD to promote better systems of school discipline to improve student well-being and academic success.

In South Texas, the San Antonio Mobile Mental Wellness Collaborative (SAMMWC), which delivers in-person access to mental health services for students in five San Antonio school districts, asked the Meadows Institute to provide necessary infrastructure and programmatic support after a competitive selection process. These types of innovative school district-community partnerships are crucial to addressing the surging demand for mental health services for young people, and SAMMWC is a proven model that can be successfully replicated in other communities.

Innovative school district-community partnerships are crucial to addressing the surging demand for mental health services for young people.