RIDE Receives $10 Million Grant to Recruit, Retain School Mental Health Service Providers

Published on Friday, January 06, 2023

Funding will support pilots in four local education agencies with demonstrated need: Coventry Public Schools, Johnston Public Schools, Exeter West Greenwich Regional School District, and the Segue Institute for Learning

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Governor Dan McKee, Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos, and Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green today announced the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) has received a $10 million federal grant to recruit and retain mental health service providers to further support student wellbeing. The grant, administered by the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) over the course of five years, will be piloted in four local education agencies (LEAs) with demonstrated need: Coventry Public Schools, Johnston Public Schools, Exeter West Greenwich Regional School District, and the Segue Institute for Learning, with the goal of supporting students statewide.  

“School mental health providers are essential in creating and sustaining safe, successful school communities,” said Governor Dan McKee. “Today’s announcement is a significant step as we work to recruit and retain these professionals. My administration sends its gratitude to the uniquely trained and committed school psychologists, social workers, counselors, and other mental health providers making a positive impact on our students each day.” 

“Just as we ensure that every school system has nurse-teachers available to support students’ physical health, we must also help them hire professionals who can support students’ mental and behavioral health. The pilot program funded by this grant will bring us closer to that goal,” said Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos. “This additional federal funding will help to make Rhode Island a leader in providing support services to our students.”

RIDE estimates 10,000 students will benefit from the grant program. Goals laid out in the competitive application process include the hiring of approximately 24 school counselors, 23 school social workers, and six school psychologists across the four pilot LEAs to meet the national ratio recommendations.  

“The Council is thrilled to see yet another significant investment in the mental health of our students,” said Chair of the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education Patti DiCenso. “The relationship between student mental health and academic success is well-documented, and we are grateful to the educators who have stepped up and supported students and families during trying times. We’re excited that with this funding we will strengthen support systems in our school communities.” 

Additional goals of the USDOE’s School-Based Mental Health Grant program include increasing the number of mental health service providers from diverse backgrounds to reflect the student population, as well as developing professional preparation, continuing education, and certification pathways to increase the number of mental health providers credentialed and certified to work in K-12 schools. These goals will strengthen schools’ capacity to provide culturally relevant, evidenced-based trauma support services and mental health care using a Multi-tiered System of Supports (MTSS) framework. 

“Through comprehensive school-based mental health services, Rhode Island will not only address inequities in access, but also reduce the stigma associated with receiving support,” said Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green. “This grant will allow our LEAs to double down on recruitment and retention of mental health professionals while weaving emotional well-being into the fabric of our schools.” 

The announcement of this $10 million in funding comes after RIDE announced it received a $7.2 million federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHA) to expand mental health awareness and support programs. There is additional information on this grant, as well as other recent investments in the mental health of students and educators.

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