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Grant awarded for children's mental health services in west central Minn.

A new grant initiative will help make mental health services more readily available to young children and their families in greater Minnesota.

The $450,000 grant, awarded to Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota by the Minnesota Department of Human Services, was announced today.

Through the initiative, counseling services will be provided to children under age 5 who are uninsured or underinsured and living in the 13-county region covered by Kandiyohi, Swift, Chippewa, Lac qui Parle, Yellow Medicine, Renville, Meeker, McLeod, Douglas, Grant, Stevens, Pope and Traverse counties.

"Fostering healthy development early in a child's life is essential to long-term success and well-being," said Tim Johnson, clinical director for Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota. "At LSS, we are committed to kids and want to do all we can to provide services that will enhance their emotional health and wellness and get them off to a good start in life."

According to the Minnesota Department of Human Services, 5 percent of preschool children have serious emotional issues that can persist and seriously affect a child's ability to function at home and in school.

Through its initiative, LSS will reach out to provide culturally specific and developmentally appropriate services to these and other young children who need counseling support.

"There is an extreme need for these services in our region and very few professional organizations that have the staff capacity or willingness to work with very young children," said Sara Carlson, program officer with the Southwest Initiative Foundation. "LSS stands in the gap for these children and their caregivers."

For more information about counseling services available to young children, contact LSS Clinical Director Tim Johnson at 320-235-5411 or by email at