Sioux Empire United Way Further Expands Mental Health Program for Students

Sioux Empire United Way’s Board of Directors has approved additional funding for PATH (Providing Access to Healing) in 2018 and 2019. The program provides mental health counseling sessions directly in schools, eliminating barriers students often face in accessing services.

Sioux Empire United Way and Lutheran Social Services partnered together to launch PATH in 2015 within the Harrisburg School District. The initial pilot served 50 students and the program has grown tremendously over the past three years.

PATH was already set to expand in 2018 thanks to Sioux Empire United Way’s most recent successful campaign. The additional expansion will mean that PATH will now be available in more than 40 schools in Brandon Valley, Canton, Dell Rapids, Garretson, Harrisburg, Lennox, Sioux Falls, and Tea Area School Districts and Sioux Falls Catholic Schools.

“We are so excited about the opportunity to expand access to mental health care in our local schools through this innovative program. PATH is a great example of people in our community working together to solve local programs and of what makes our local United Way so special,” said Rebecca Kiesow-Knudsen, Vice President of Community Services at Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota.

PATH counselors provide confidential, individual counseling sessions at the school for kindergarten through 12th grade students. Counseling sessions are held in a private room, designated by the school. Counselors use accepted therapy practices that are appropriate for the student’s age and challenges. A counseling session could include talking, art, games, movement, toys, or music as therapy tools.

PATH is funded through a combination of sources, including Sioux Empire United Way, insurance, and a sliding fee scale for service. No student is turned away from the program due to the lack of financial means.

To request additional information about PATH and schools served by the program, please email