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Pennsauken, NJ: District gets $1.6M federal grant to address mental health issues

Oct 28, 2019, Southern New Jersey Today (SNJ): Pennsauken School District Receives $1.6 Million To Address Mental Health Issues PENNSAUKEN, N.J. — The U.S. Department of Education has awarded Pennsauken School District with a $1.6 million grant to address the issue of mental health. The district was one of only 27 schools nationwide to receive the grant. Over the course of the next five years, Pennsauken will allocate the grant funds towards assessing the current state of mental health services, as well as collaborating with local and national agencies to maximize student mental health interventions and supports. … According the the US Department of Education, the Mental Health Demonstration Grant Program provides the grant money to school districts to “support innovative partnerships to train and deploy school-based mental health service providers in schools. The purpose is to expand the pipeline of high-quality, trained professionals to address shortages of mental health services in high-need schools, and to provide supports that encompass social and emotional learning, mental wellness, resilience, and positive connections between students and adults.” “The first step is to close the gap in services provided,” Pensiero said. “So, we will be hiring more counselors and psychologists to focus on providing therapeutic services rather than involvement in state testing and other school activities not related to mental health.” Pensiero, who is co-director of the grant along with Thomas Cox, a mental health clinician will oversee services, also said that the district will be updating crisis policies and begin monthly parent night that focuses on mental health issues…. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos had announced $71.6 million overall in new funding nationwide to enhance safety in schools and improve student access to mental health resources. … Services will be offered to students from January, 2020, to the end of the school year. “Next year we will start earlier,” Pensiero said. “Since we only received word on September 30 that we got the grant, it takes some time to get it up and running.” The grant will run through September 30, 2024.


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