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Cramer co-sponsors bill designed to get more mental health providers into the schools

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North Dakota Senator Kevin Cramer and three of his colleagues have introduced a bill designed to help address a shortage of mental health providers in schools.

The bill authorizes the federal Department of Education to partner with higher education institutions to help cover some of a student’s cost for attending certain graduate programs.

Cramer said that should boost the pipeline for school psychologists, counselors, social workers and mental health professionals.

"We have done things like this in North Dakota, where you help provide and incentive for part of their education, if they go into these particular fields," Cramer said in an interview.

Cramer said in North Dakota, there’s approximately one school psychologist per 1,692 students – with the national average being one for 1211 students. He said that means some schools don’t have those professionals on staff.

"I think the crisis is obvious," Cramer said. "The solutions are less obvious."

But Cramer said one thing's for sure — there is a shortage of these kinds of professionals in schools.

"If we can provide a little incentive, a little direction to help facilitate that, I think we ought to give it a try," Cramer said.

A companion bill was introduced in the US House.

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