The U.S. Department of Education invites school districts to apply for two grant programs to increase access to mental health services for students and young people, totaling $280 million, that were funded through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act and the Fiscal Year 2022 Omnibus Appropriations, according to a news release.
The BSCA provided historic funding in a bid to double the number of school-based mental health professionals. The $280 million in opportunities is the first of $1 billion in BSCA funds that USDOE will dole out over the next five years.
“For too long, schools have lacked the resources to hire enough school-based mental health providers, when at the same time, educators are often first to notice when a student is slipping academically or struggling because of mental health challenges,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “We know children and youth can’t do their best learning when they’re experiencing depression, anxiety and other mental health challenges whether they stem from community violence, social isolation from the pandemic, loss of loved ones, bullying, harassment, or something else. This funding from the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act will help schools raise the bar for student mental health by recruiting, preparing, hiring and training highly qualified school-based mental health providers, including in underserved communities and for students such as multilingual learners and those from low-income backgrounds and in rural communities, where access to such services can be limited.”
The first grant program, School-Based Mental Health Services, provides funding to schools to increase the number of credentialed school-based mental health professionals.
The grant provides $144 million each year for five years, with an average award size of $1,750,000, ranging from $500,000 to $3,000,000 per year. The department anticipates making up to 150 awards. Two technical assistance webinars for prospective applicants will be provided: one on Oct. 11, 2022, and one on Oct. 19, 2022, prior to the application deadline. Webinar information will be available here.
The second program, the Mental Health Service Professional Demonstration grants, support districts in hiring additional school-based mental health service providers in high-need districts by boosting the mental health profession pipeline. This includes investing in innovative partnerships between school districts and institutions of higher education to prepare qualified school-based mental health services providers for employment in schools. These grants make available $143 million a year for five years, with an average award size of $800,000, ranging from $400,000 to $1,200,000 per year. The department anticipates making up to 250 awards. Two technical assistance webinars for prospective applicants will be provided: one on Oct. 12, 2022, and one on Oct. 18, 2022, prior to the application deadline. Webinar information will be available here.
These programs will increase the number of mental health service providers from diverse backgrounds or from the communities they serve, including ensuring access to services for children and youth who are English learners.
The nation remains committed to addressing the nation’s mental health crisis by providing more resources and supports to help schools address students’ mental health needs. As part of that effort, in January, the USDOE laid out its goals and vision for helping students recover from the pandemic, including increasing access to social, emotional, and mental health supports for all students. Just recently, the department announced the Stronger Connections Grant program, which are awards totaling nearly $1 billion to 56 states and territories through BSCA to help schools in high-need districts provide students with safe and supportive learning opportunities and environments that are critical for their success.