There are three programs that support the work of professional school counselors and have been approved by Congress. These programs demonstrate positive student outcomes such as reducing discipline, improving school climate and teaching social emotional skills to overcome barriers to academic and social success. These programs, the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Program, Safe Schools Healthy Students Initiative, and Integration of Schools and Mental Health Systems are described below. (All descriptions were pulled straight from Department of Education’s website.)
ACTION: Please contact your members of Congress and ask that these programs receive full funding as they are effective and immediate ways to help our schools address safety and the mental health of our country’s youth. Increasing our school-based mental health professionals and therefore decreasing our students-to-school counselor ratio, will allow our nation’s schools to address the needs of the whole child, improving our communities and k-12 academic success.
OVERVIEW OF PROGRAMS:
Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Program (ESSCP) -- in ESEA, Title V, Part D
This program provides funding to Local Education Agencies (LEAs) to establish or expand elementary and secondary school counseling programs, with special consideration given to applicants that can:
- Demonstrate the greatest need for counseling services in the schools to be served;
- Propose the most innovative and promising approaches; and
- Show the greatest potential for replication and dissemination.
Projects should: (1) use a developmental, preventive approach, (2) expand the inventory of effective counseling programs, (3) include in-service training, and (4) involve parents and community groups.
This program is still currently active, however has been threatened to be cut for the l. In FY2012, $21 million was rewarded to 60 grantees in 24 states. These grants are often used to hire school counselors and other school-based mental health professionals.
Safe Schools Healthy Students Initiative -- in ESEA, Title IV, Part A
Grants support LEAs in the development of communitywide approaches to creating safe and drug-free schools and promoting healthy childhood development. Programs are intended to prevent violence and the illegal use of drugs and to promote safety and discipline. Coordination with other community-based organizations (CBOs) is required. This program is jointly funded and administered by the departments of Education, Justice, and Health and Human Services.
To be funded, local comprehensive strategies must address the following five elements but may address other elements as well, as determined by the needs of the community:
- Element One—Safe School Environments and Violence Prevention Activities;
- Element Two—Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Prevention Activities;
- Element Three—Student Behavioral, Social, and Emotional Supports;
- Element Four—Mental Health Services; and
- Element Five—Early Childhood Social and Emotional Learning Programs.
In 2001, $117 million was appropriated and each year since has been decreased. In 2008, $72 million was appropriated and by 2012, no new money was given out.
Integration of Schools and Mental Health Systems – in ESEA, Title V, Part D
This program provides grants to SEAs, LEAs, and Indian tribes for the purpose of increasing student access to quality mental health care by developing innovative programs that link school systems with local mental health systems. Grants were given out between 2005 and 2010. In 2010, the largest amount was appropriated at $5,913,000, with the average grant of 16 awarded being $347,000.
A funded program must include all of the following:
- Enhancing, improving, or developing collaborative efforts between school-based service systems and mental health service systems to provide, enhance, or improve prevention, diagnosis, and treatment services to students;
- Enhancing the availability of crisis intervention services, appropriate referrals for students potentially in need of mental health services, and ongoing mental health services;
- Providing training for the school personnel and mental health professionals who will participate in the program;
- Providing technical assistance and consultation to school systems and mental health agencies, and families participating in the program;
- Providing linguistically appropriate and culturally competent services; and
- Evaluating the effectiveness of the program in increasing student access to quality mental health services, and making recommendations to the secretary of education about sustainability of the program.