Heroes for Health: Michael Piontek

This spotlight series is designed to profile members of the Racine Collaborative for Children’s Mental Health. Over the coming months, the series will feature individual Collaborative members, each of whom is integral to the group’s efforts to forge stronger connections and establish new approaches to strengthen the social and emotional development of our children.

This series is an opportunity to highlight and recognize the diverse individuals, services and resources available to the Racine community.

Who: Judge Michael Piontek, Circuit Court - Branch #5, Racine County Circuit Court

Website: http://wicourts.gov

Email: michael.piontek@wicourts.gov

Phone: 262-636-3550

About the Wisconsin Court System: The judicial branch is one of three branches of government. It is responsible for interpreting the laws; the legislative branch makes the laws and the executive branch enforces the laws. Each of the three levels of court in Wisconsin has a different function, but the entire court system shares a commitment to dispensing justice fairly, impartially, and according to the law. This is a cornerstone of our democracy.

Words from Michael, a Hero for Health:

As a judge in Racine’s truancy court, my caseload includes young adults who are no longer in a traditional classroom setting. Over my tenure, it has become evident to me that unaddressed mental health issues are a contributing factor to the behavior that leads to a student being in my courtroom.

These are smart kids who need support. Yet too many barriers are keeping families from identifying the underlying causes leading to truant behavior or accessing the care they need. For some it’s financial - they either don’t have insurance or are unaware of how to access insurance. And for many, other challenges and the pressing demands of daily life take precedence. For those who are actively seeking care, there is still a huge barrier to accessing that care in a timely manner.

The Racine Collaborative for Children’s Mental Health has helped us identify solutions for addressing these capacity constraints and alleviating other barriers to accessing care. I’m encouraged by the commitment to break down silos and bring leaders from across the community together to address the needs of our children.

As a judge, I consider it imperative that the students I work with know that I am serious about the plans we’ve set in place and – just as important – that I am committed and invested in their success. The ability to work with the many Collaborative members and engage more directly with others who are also involved in the lives of these young adults is a game changer. I believe we are on the right path to creating a solid system of care for our children and families.

See all Heroes