The student services program for Buncombe County Schools has received a $1.19 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to address “social, emotional and mental health issues” of students and the impact on school performance, according to David Thompson, director of student services for the county school system.
The grant, which will be allocated over three years, will allow county schools to hire five new counselors for county elementary schools, Thompson said.
“Right now, I have seven schools with only a part-time counselor,” Thompson said. “As a result of this grant, there will be at least one full-time counselor in every elementary school.”
Thompson hopes to have the additional counselors on board this fall.
The project is called “Schools with CLASS: Counselor Leaders Advancing School Safety.” Thompson said school officials will be working with local physicians, mental health agencies and others in the community on this effort.
The program should help increase student access to mental health support. School officials hope to see less bullying and disciplinary action and better student performance.
The grant will allow the system to train staff and implement “trauma-focused strategies to address students who are at-risk due to adverse childhood experiences such as, homelessness, abuse, neglect, loss of a parent, etc.” and to put in place a digital accountability system to track bullying reports, according to a news release.
Other aspects of the grant include “a research-based social-emotional curriculum that includes anti-bullying and academic learning strategies” and training counselors and social workers in Triple P Parenting, “a research-based parenting program utilized throughout the community,” according to the release.
The program also provides support for students from military families who may be having issues because of deployment of a parent or family member.