District 45 is one of several area school districts to receive a grant to support mental health services for students and their families.
The grant comes from the Illinois Department of Public Health and will create a CARES program within our district in partnership with ReferralGPS and the DuPage Regional Office of Education. CARES, an acronym for Community Advocacy, Resilience, Engagement and Supports, will allow District staff to provide referrals to mental health providers more easily.
The grant amount is $249,000, and funding from this grant will provide a referral service called ReferralGPS to provide high-quality mental health services at no cost to students or family members in need. The goal is for the services to be open to District 45 families in January of 2024.
Families will be able to access these services either through referrals from District 45 or directly through a secure, confidential website. Services are provided by independent mental health professionals in the area. “We are so grateful for this grant,” said Diana Brown, Director of Student Services for District 45, who helped to coordinate the grant application process. “It will fill critical gaps in our community by providing easy and free access to counseling services for our students and their family members.”
The grant will also include training staff on Mental Health First Aid and updating resources for students in middle schools to support social and emotional learning.
“In recent years, District 45 has increased the level of support for student mental health by adding daily classroom time for social-emotional programming, recognizing that all of its student’s needs—academic, social, emotional, and physical—are important. Students can do their best learning when all these needs are addressed,” said Dr. Annetta Spychalski, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction. “A holistic approach to mental health, which includes both prevention and intervention, is crucial to support the well-being and academic success of our students.”
The funding is primarily from the CDC’s COVID-19 Public Health Workforce Supplemental Funding program authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), plus $500,000 in state dollars. The grant will help schools and local agencies improve student care through workforce enhancements, developing frameworks to prevent adverse childhood experiences, interventions to assist children suffering from trauma, and training for medical and school staff to expand adolescent mental health resources.