The Cloquet School District, in partnership with Northern Lights Academy, will offer a new local option for day treatment programming to freshmen and sophomore students during the upcoming school year.

The program comes as a result of Cloquet’s most recent strategic plan, which includes the goal of “partnering with regional mental health organizations/professionals to provide supports, close to home, for students in need.” As a part of this goal, district officials also specified a need for a day treatment option in Cloquet.

According to the First Call For Help website, day treatment “consists of group psychotherapy and other intensive therapeutic services that are provided at least two days a week by a multidisciplinary staff under the clinical supervision of a mental health professional.”

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While Cloquet currently offers in-house mental health programming for students in kindergarten through eighth grade, Superintendent Michael Cary said there is still a significant gap in services available locally for high school students. Cloquet High School students are often put on waiting lists for day treatment programs in Duluth.

“Kids often go without having their needs met because there’s a lack of capacity,” Cary said.

In the past, services have been offered to Cloquet students through various local partners. Now, Cary said he believes that by partnering with NLA — a joint powers school district — Cloquet schools will be able to provide more consistent programming, as well as save a significant amount of money.

“We’ve been creating good partnerships that I think are bearing us fruit,” Cary said.

Typically, day treatment programs that consist of education and treatment components are funded through both the school district’s general fund revenues and the student's insurance provider, according to Cary.

However, in the case of the upcoming program, students who attend will become students of NLA, meaning that state aid will be provided to NLA throughout their time in the program. Revenue will then return to the student's original district after they leave the program.

Cary said it is difficult to predict the exact cost for the district due to students shifting in and out of the day treatment program based on their needs. To keep the program at its max capacity, Cary said it will be open to multiple school districts in the area, although he predicts Cloquet students will make up the majority because of the district's size.

"The idea behind sharing with other districts is to ensure we can keep a program at maximum capacity, which means it will be most financially efficient," Cary said. "Each district ends up paying a portion of the program cost based on the percentage of students in the program from their district, so the costs to each district fluctuate throughout the year and from year to year."

The new day treatment services will be temporarily offered at Carlton High School, which had space available for lease for the upcoming school year. However, Cary said it is likely the program will relocate in the future.

While the program is currently only available for students in grades nine and 10 due to the assessed level of need, Cary said officials hope to expand it in the future.

“I believe the programming that Northern Lights is putting together provides us with a more robust option than we’ve been able to structure in the past,” Cary said. “I feel like we’re making good progress.”