Six school departments in the Sunshine State will be getting more than $9.5 million in federal funds from the U.S. Education Department.
The funds are part of $188 million going to 170 grantees in more than 30 states “to increase access to school-based mental health services and to strengthen the pipeline of mental health professionals in high-needs districts.” The funds come from Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA).
“These grants will enable communities to hire approximately 5,400 school-based mental health professionals and train an estimated 5,500 more to build a diverse pipeline of mental health providers in schools. These investments will begin the important work of broadening access to critical mental health supports by increasing the number of health care providers in schools. These funds also will help with strengthening the pipeline of certified mental health providers who are ready to work in schools with the greatest needs. These competitive grants are the first in a series of awards the Department will make over several years and constitute the largest investment in school-based mental health this country has ever made,” the Education Department announced. “Even before the pandemic, the wellbeing of many students was unmet due to insufficient access to high-quality mental health care. For years, schools have struggled to meet the recommended ratios for school-based mental health professionals, and this is especially true in schools with more underserved students. Now, the mental health crisis facing students has reached a critical point with more than one in three high school students reported experiencing poor mental health during the height of the pandemic. Research shows that children and young people learn more, report feeling safer, and develop more trusting relationships with their peers and teachers when their social and emotional needs are met with certified and accessible mental health professionals.”
The Biden administration showcased the funds on Thursday.
“As the president outlined in his State of the Union address, we must do more to tackle our nation’s growing mental health crisis, which is particularly acute among our youth,” said Domestic Policy Advisor to the President Susan Rice. “These new awards will help connect more students in need to school-based mental health services now and ensure a pipeline of trained professionals to support students in the future. Integrating mental health services into our schools is a key component of the president’s Mental Health Strategy and will help fulfill a key component of the president’s Unity Agenda.”
“Even before the disruption, isolation, and trauma of the pandemic, youth rates of anxiety and depression, and other mental health challenges were on the rise, and too many students suffered in silence,” said U.S. Education Sec. Miguel Cardona. “Mental health and wellness have profound implications for our students, their academic success, and their overall outcomes, and we know that youth facing mental health challenges are more likely to receive services in a school-based setting. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act represents an unprecedented opportunity to raise the bar for our support of our students, to improve learning conditions in our schools, to expand access to school-based mental health care, and to supercharge efforts across the country to train and hire a pipeline of professionals committed to the wellbeing of our students.”
The Miami-Dade County School Board will be getting $3 million. The Hillsbrough County Public Schools and the Bay County School District will each receive around $1.7 million, The Monroe County School Board will get $1.3 million while the Duval County School Board will get more than $1.25 million. The Seminole County Public Schools are penciled in for $521,838.
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