K-12 Prevention Funding Provides Needed Support to Local School Districts
At their December Board of Directors meeting, the Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery Services (MHARS) Board of Lorain County approved funds to four local school districts for prevention programming. The funding will support the social and emotional needs of students, teachers and families.
Multiple school districts are working with MHARS Board staff to assess their needs and resources, and develop creative plans for wellness. The first cohort of districts to finish their plans and receive funding approval are Avon Lake City Schools, Clearview Local Schools, North Ridgeville City Schools and Wellington Exempted Village Schools.
“The funds will be utilized in a variety of ways across the district,” North Ridgeville City Schools Social Worker Chelsea Freeman said. “We are very lucky to be awarded such a grant in the middle of a pandemic.”
Freeman added that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the needs of students are increasing.
The goal is to develop effective evidence-based strategies to help children build resiliency and reduce risk factors that contribute to behavioral health conditions including substance use, anxiety and depression.
“Prevention education is so important, now so more than ever, and the K-12 prevention funding is allowing Avon Lake City Schools to not only keep our programing going, but to make adjustments that will help even more students,” said Superintendent Bob Scott.
Strategies that were approved across districts include expanded screenings for students, mentoring, trauma-informed care training for staff, mindfulness opportunities for students, and family engagement enhancements.
“The Wellington Exempted Village School District is excited to partner with the Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery Services Board of Lorain County to bring exciting new programming to our students including the Second Step Program, Yoga in the Classroom, and the ROX girls curriculum. These new programs are ideal to support our students in these difficult times,” noted Edward Weber, Wellington’s Superintendent.
At the high school, the Ruling Our Experiences, or ROX, program to will build leadership skills for young women.
“I think the ROX program is going to be an amazingly beneficial program for many girls including myself,” said Wellington junior Harley Wallace. “Personally, I believe I will benefit from being a ROX girl because I will become more confident in myself, and be more comfortable in a public setting.”
“The K-12 Prevention Education Initiative is a partnership with our Board and local school districts to help achieve Ohio’s goal of prevention services for every child in every grade, every school,” said MHARS Interim Executive Director Elaine Georgas. “School districts complete an assessment either for their district or a specific building in key areas: planning, partnerships, family engagement, data informed decision-making school planning teams, policies, program identification and selection, peer opportunities for students and staff support and professional development. This assessment is used to create a plan for which MHARS offers technical assistance.”
The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) and the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) distributed $18 million to support prevention education for students in grades K-12. The MHARS Board received an allocation of $433,986 for local public, private and charter schools that successfully complete the funding request process.
Jerome Davis, the Superintendent of the Clearview Local Schools, said that the prevention funding is an exciting opportunity to create new approaches, like a calming room on a school’s campus.
“As more and more young people are facing issues with fear, anxiety, and disappointment, it brings me great pride in there being a safe space in our school district whereby we can help ease some of the anxiety and traumatic experiences,” he said. “Trauma encompasses a lot from divorce to illness to death. We will have that comforting space to help deal with these stressful situations. It is truly exciting to have the opportunity to provide that space for our students.”
“We are pleased that the four districts have moved forward to create sustainable plans focused on the well-being of their students, school personnel and the families of the students particularly during this school year, which has been unique due to COVID-19. Now more than ever, the social-emotional needs of students are a priority,” said Georgas.
“Together we can get through this crisis and together we can help those in need,” added Superintendent Scott.
Other districts are in the process of developing their plans. To learn more about the K-12 Prevention Initiative and how your school districts can access Social Emotional Learning (SEL) programming supports and receive technical assistance from Tonya Birney, the MHARS Board’s Dissemination and Implementation Officer for Prevention Services, contact 440-434-5713 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The MHARS Board is the local behavioral health authority. Its mission is to improve the well-being of all members of our community by planning for, establishing and maintaining an effective, efficient, and quality system of mental health, addiction and recovery services for Lorain County.