Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow announced today that seven school divisions in the Commonwealth, including Salem City Schools, will receive funding through a five-year, $15 million federal grant awarded to the Virginia Department of Education in support of Governor Glenn Youngkin’s initiative to expand behavioral and mental health services for students.
"Our teachers, administrators, and central office staff go to great lengths to capitalize on grant opportunities for our students," says Salem Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Curtis Hicks. "We are very excited to be one of only seven school divisions selected for this opportunity and we look forward to expanding our behavioral and mental health services for students through this grant."
The seven divisions were selected based on a broad needs assessment aligned with the grant requirements and are as follows:
● Fredericksburg Public Schools.
● New Kent County Public Schools.
● Portsmouth Public Schools.
● Prince George County Public Schools.
● Roanoke Public Schools.
● Salem Public Schools.
● Scott County Public Schools.
“This latest award from the U.S. Department of Education’s Mental Health Services Grant program will allow the commonwealth to build upon efforts funded through three previous awards,” Balow said. “I am proud that Virginia is the only state to receive all four of these mental health-related grants since 2019. This reflects our commitment to aggressively pursue all funding opportunities for expanding mental health services for our students, especially in school divisions with the most acute needs.”
Funding from the grant will allow the participating divisions to hire additional mental health professionals — including school psychologists, counselors and social workers — and expand professional development opportunities for service providers and school administrators. VDOE staff will work with the divisions to develop detailed plans and budgets that will determine how much each division will receive.
“Virginia’s comprehensive approach to recruitment and retention of school mental health professionals is building capacity in our school divisions to address the mental health needs of our students in the wake of the pandemic and due to other factors, including trauma,” Assistant Superintendent of Special Education and Student Services Samantha Hollins said. “The earlier we can identify and intervene with students in need of mental health services, the sooner schools can help them get back on track to social and academic success.”
The federal Mental Health Services Grant program provides competitive grants to states and local school districts to increase the number of credentialed school-based mental health service providers delivering services to students in schools with demonstrated needs. Virginia has been awarded $24.3 million under the program since 2019 to expand mental health services for students and recruit and retain staff in more than 20 high-needs school divisions.