State receives $10M federal grant to further support mental health initiatives in local schools

PROVIDENCE – The state has once again became the beneficiary of a multimillion-dollar federal grant to support mental health initiatives within local schools.

State elected and education officials announced Friday that the R.I. Department of Education has received a five-year, $10 million U.S. Department of Education grant to help four local education agencies recruit and retain mental health service providers in order to support student well-being. The Coventry, Exeter-West Greenwich and Johnston public school districts, as well as the Segue Institute for Learning in Central Falls, will be supported by the funding.

Funds from the grant will help hire approximately 24 school counselors, 23 school social workers and six school psychologists across the four learning agencies to meet the national ratio recommendations for staff, RIDE said. The department also estimates that 10,000 students will benefit from the grant program.

The state has had a recent heavy influx of federal funding devoted to supporting mental health in schools. This latest grant comes days after RIDE received a $7.2 million Project Advancing Wellness and Resiliency in Education federal grant to expand mental health services in the Chariho, East Providence, Newport and Warwick school districts.

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RIDE in September 2021 received a $9 million grant to expand mental health services in the Cranston, West Warwick and Westerly schools, a few weeks after the state got $1.8 million in federal money to help schools address mental health needs.

Then back in September, Emma Pendleton Bradley Hospital was awarded a five-year, $8.6 million federal grant to help provide mental and behavioral health services in schools across the state.

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at Bessette@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.