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Florida: $1.9M for school mental health services; half for hiring more school social workers

July 6, 2018, Treasure Coast (FL) Newspapers: State money will put more social workers, mental-health programming into Treasure Coast schools About half the $1.9 million lawmakers are sending to Treasure Coast school districts for mental-health services — in response to the Parkland shooting — is earmarked for hiring additional school social workers. Districts here are poised to double the number of social workers serving the area's 76,000 students by adding five each in Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River counties…. The same new law that calls for an armed guard in every Florida public school obligates school districts to create a comprehensive mental-health plan. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act also gives schools $69.2 million to expand their scope of student mental-health care….Each school district will receive an initial $100,000, then more based on enrollment. Before 2018-19, there was no money from the state specifically for mental health…. Jeffrey Shearer, a licensed social worker and executive director of Tykes & Teens, a child-focused mental-health organization in Palm City, said he agrees with how Treasure Coast school districts are approaching their mental-health plans. In particular, adding 15 social workers should go a long way, he said…. They step in when students are referred for problems with attendance or behavior and provide mental-health counseling. Social workers also provide a bridge between students and their families and services in the community. They can refer students to longer-term care, and assist with decisions under the state Baker Act, where individuals can be involuntarily admitted for mental-health evaluations…. “To actually put funds out there is a tremendous effort for schools to be able to address the mental-health needs of children,” Tomlinson said.

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