County school division among those to receive federal mental health funds to support training professionals

Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane announced that the Virginia Department of Education has received a five-year, $6 million federal grant to increase the number of qualified mental health service providers in high-need school divisions.

The funds — awarded under the U.S. Department of Education’s School-Based Mental Health Services Grant Program — will support the development by VDOE and Old Dominion University of a recruitment and professional development program to increase the number of mental health service providers in the following six school divisions:

·        Danville Public Schools

·        Henry County Public Schools

·        Petersburg Public Schools

·        Pittsylvania County Public Schools

·        Suffolk Public Schools

·        Washington County Public Schools

The school divisions were selected based on the criteria of the grant program, which supports state efforts to increase the number of mental health service providers in schools serving communities with demonstrated needs.

“School-based mental health services play a critical role in supporting learning and creating environments where students feel safe and have a place to turn for services they might not otherwise receive. This is especially true in schools where a significant number of children experience trauma in their homes or community,” Lane said. “This grant will allow the commonwealth to build on the progress already made in expanding the pipeline of qualified mental health professionals, and ensure that they receive the training and resources they need to serve students successfully.”

Virginia’s application includes the development of a web-based platform to support the recruitment and retention of school-based mental health service providers and expand the pool of qualified applicants.

The platform will provide a single point of access to support recruitment and retention, including access to high-quality professional development; information on licensure, recertification, respecialization and credential reciprocity; telemental health resources; and information on hiring incentives in the participating school divisions.

VDOE and ODU will also develop staff education and training materials for the participating divisions, with the potential of providing support to additional divisions during the five-year grant period.

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