ISD 166 & Health Care Foundation Partner to Secure School-Based Mental Health Therapist

ISD 166 & Health Care Foundation Partner to Secure School-Based Mental Health Therapist

November 30, 2022 – Cook County Schools ISD 166 (ISD 166) and the North Shore Health Care Foundation (NSHCF) are partnering to welcome a licensed mental health therapist through Greater Minnesota Family Services to Cook County Schools in the near future. Through a three-year cost-sharing relationship, the mental health therapist and clinical supervisor, will be based out of Cook County’s schools in Grand Marais.

“It is exciting to know that we will soon be able to provide improved mental health therapy support in Cook County Schools,” said Superintendent Chris Lindholm. “While some private providers have offered services in the past on school grounds, Cook County Schools has not had a formal provider partner for mental health therapy onsite which has become very common in public schools. Having mental health services available to students and families in the school environment eliminates the enormous barrier of getting children to and from scheduled appointments. It also provides great opportunities for the school, the provider, and families to work closely to support the child. Bringing a provider into Cook County Schools to work directly with our staff and families either in-school or in their homes, is a meaningful step towards helping some of our students and families who struggle the most. We are grateful that the North Shore Health Care Foundation also recognizes this critical need and is stepping up as a willing partner.”

Greater MN Family Services, based out of Willmar, MN, has agreed to provide a therapist for school-based mental health as they have a current licensed therapist who is moving to Cook County from central Minnesota. This practitioner is expected to provide approximately .65 FTE service to Cook County and also serve as a Clinical Supervisor for Greater MN Family Services. The organization charges school districts $10,000 per year per FTE provided, and funds their remaining costs through third party billing and a statewide school based mental health grant. They employ over 200 mental health staff across rural MN in partnership with counties and schools.  

“Children’s mental health is a key priority for the North Shore Health Care Foundation,” said Valerie Marasco Eliasen, Executive Director – NSHCF. “Impacts of the pandemic on children and families have further highlighted the need for mental health support across the world, and many Cook County students and families currently do not have easy access to a licensed therapist due to cost and/or our remoteness. Greater MN Family Services has a successful, licensed therapist that is planning to move here this winter, and they are willing to allow her to continue working for them right here in Cook County serving our families. Our Board recognized this as a unique opportunity when the district approached us, and we are proud to step up as a partner to help fill this gap in mental health service and better serve our young people. This will be a wonderful asset to our families and is an investment in local health.”

The practitioner is expected to begin working in Cook County this winter with a gradual transition to a full schedule in the 2023 school year. The Foundation will provide for half of the district fee each year for the next three years to facilitate sustainability ($3750 – $5000 each year for the 2023-24, 2024-25, and 2025-26 school years).

“We believe in the possibilities of people, organizations, businesses, and governments working together to create a healthy community,” said Marasco Eliasen, Executive Director. “This is a prime example of how we can collaborate and champion solutions to increase equitable access to health services.”

The North Shore Health Care Foundation is an independent nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization benefiting health care and emergency services in Cook County, Minnesota. The Foundation proactively identifies opportunities to expand equitable access to health care and healthy living in Cook County and champions solutions through funding, education, and advocacy. The Foundation has awarded over $1.15 million in grants since 1995.


Contact(s):  Chris Lindholm, Superintendent – ISD 166 Cook County Public Schools, 218-387-2271 x. 612 or
                      Valerie Marasco Eliasen, Executive Director – North Shore Health Care Foundation, 218-387-5700