VDOE receives federal school mental health grant


Funds support training for school mental health professionals; RU and VT involved in training

RICHMOND — Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane announced today that the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) has been awarded a five-year, $2.5 million dollar federal grant to improve mental health services for students in six high-need school divisions.

The funds — awarded under the U.S. Department of Education’s Mental Health Service Professional Demonstration Grant Program — will support the development by VDOE and the University of Virginia of a statewide training and professional development network to increase the quantity and quality of school mental health professionals in the following school divisions:Buckingham County Public Schools, Charlottesville Public Schools, Hampton Public Schools, Roanoke Public Schools, Staunton Public Schools and Waynesboro Public Schools.

The school divisions were selected based on the criteria of the federal grant program, which is focused on improving mental health services in schools in small cities and rural areas with high percentages of economically disadvantaged students.

“Mental health can affect students’ learning, development, relationships and physical health,” Lane said. “The most positive outcomes occur when mental health services are provided by high-quality professionals. This grant will support the commonwealth’s effort to create a pipeline of high-quality mental health professionals for school divisions with the greatest needs.”

The network includes the six school divisions, VDOE, and school mental health training programs at the UVA, Virginia Tech, Radford University, Old Dominion University and William & Mary.

The network will provide training for currently employed school mental health professionals — school counselors, psychologists, social workers and nurses —  in the six divisions to become qualified field supervisors for graduate students completing internships. The grant will also provide financial incentives for 150-200 school mental health trainees in the participating university training programs to accept internships and employment in the divisions, and to pursue advanced studies.

Roanoke will partner with training programs at Virginia Tech and Radford University. Hampton will partner with programs at Old Dominion University and William & Mary. Buckingham County, Charlottesville, Staunton and Waynesboro will partner with UVA.

The regional partnerships are intended to serve as a model for efforts to improve mental health services in schools throughout the commonwealth.