Santa Clara County schools score millions for mental health support
Santa Teresa High School social worker Alonso Avalos is one of the school's two full-time counselors. File photo.

    The Santa Clara County Office of Education is set to receive nearly $1 million in federal funding to help train and hire more mental health professionals across high-need schools.

    The influx of cash, which comes from a national grant program through the U.S. Department of Education, marks the second time the office has received grant money this year. This was made possible from President Joe Biden’s bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which allocated $286 million spread among 264 grantees in 48 states and territories.

    The overarching goal of this national funding is to “boost the training, hiring and diversification of mental health professionals” in education institutions, the department of education said in a statement.

    The two grants combined will bring a total of $2.6 million to the Santa Clara County Office of Education and will go toward broadening the stream of school-based mental health workers that “represent the community they will be serving.” The hope is to start training programs later this year.

    The money earmarked so far could help bring more than 14,000 new mental health workers into the country’s schools and universities, with more than 2,000 of those projected to be hired in California.

    “We will be working with both the Santa Clara County Office of Education’s Educational Preparation Program and San Jose State University to build this workforce pipeline which begins in the fall,” Kelly Wylie, a spokesperson for the county office of education, told San José Spotlight. “Our student wellness advisory group has strongly voiced their desire to have mental health professionals available to them.”

    Schools in the county have increasingly become access points for students to connect with mental health services, which saw a spike in demand amid the pandemic. But a shortage of school counselors and mental health professionals has persisted across the state.

    “Investing in student mental health and well-being is impactful in their academic journey,” County Superintendent of Schools Mary Ann Dewan said in a statement. “When youth know they have safe spaces and trusted adults to support them, they are successful learners.”

    Though the aim is to help schools with the highest needs, Wylie didn’t name any specific schools that would be prioritized for mental health staff increases, and instead said all schools will benefit in some way.

    “The SCCOE is committed to ensuring students have access to school-based mental health providers who share similar experiences, reflect identities Santa Clara County students hold and represent their communities,” the office of education said in a statement.

    Contact Joseph Geha at [email protected] or @josephgeha16 on Twitter.

    Comment Policy (updated 5/10/2023): Readers are required to log in through a social media or email platform to confirm authenticity. We reserve the right to delete comments or ban users who engage in personal attacks, hate speech, excess profanity or make verifiably false statements. Comments are moderated and approved by admin.

    Leave a Reply