NPS Receives Government Grants for Counseling, Psychiatric Positions | news
Norman Public Schools will bolster its district counseling and mental health resources with hundreds of thousands of dollars in state grants, education leaders announced last week.
The Oklahoma State Department of Education awards over $ 35 million – in federal aid – to fund mental health counseling and grants for 181 school districts in the state.
The grant fund, known as the Oklahoma School Counselor Corps, is set to be used to hire “school counselors and school mental health professionals” to “meet the needs of children following the COVID-19 pandemic,” a department told the press release on the subject of education.
The grant is expected to fund 50% of the salary and benefit costs for the new hires for three years or through the 2023-2024 school year. In grant applications, districts could list their direct needs for counselors, school mental health professionals, social workers, and recreational therapists.
Norman Public Schools will receive $ 384,000 from the grant. The district did not respond to questions from The Transcript last week about how this money is being used or whether certain school locations in the district will benefit from new positions.
Moore Public Schools received $ 825,000, Noble Public Schools received $ 219,000, and Little Ax Public Schools received no funding.
The American School Counselor Association recommends a student-to-counselor ratio of 250 to 1; Oklahoma has a ratio of 411 to 1. The state’s ratio is actually better than the average for all state schools, which is 464-1.
According to the association, following this recommended ratio can help improve academic results and student attendance; Advisors are particularly useful for low-income and color students, reports the association.
“Schools have struggled with insufficient numbers of mental health counselors and professionals for far too long,” said Joy Hofmeister, state inspector for public education. “Children in Oklahoma have a higher rate of trauma than children in most other states, and the pandemic has only made these adversities worse. These scholarships can bring transformative change to schools, some of which didn’t have a single school advisor.
“Since the success of the course depends on the well-being of the students, this is a critical investment for our students.”