Sixty-four Iowa schools to share millions in mental health grants

(Des Moines, IA) --- Sixty-four Iowa school districts are sharing $8.6 million dollars in mental health grants. The funds are for mental health first aid training, suicide prevention and other programming. The funds are part of federal pandemic relief.

The funds are provided through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER II), which is part of the federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRSSA) Act passed in December 2020. Governors in each state were granted a share of discretionary dollars to address critical needs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have to look at the whole health of every child and supporting the mental health of Iowa children and families is a top priority of mine,” said Gov. Reynolds. “This investment is not only about adapting to the challenges we face today, but it will help schools expand support systems to secure better outcomes moving forward."

“As we prepare for a new school year it is important to remember that what happens outside of the classroom has a substantial impact on students in the classroom,” said Ann Lebo, director of the Iowa Department of Education. “These additional resources will help schools expand services to address growing social-emotional-behavioral health needs and support the overall well-being of students, including youth mental health first aid training and implementation, suicide prevention services and other programming.”

The state received 130-grant applications from school districts. The Iowa Department of Education says funds will be distributed equitably across awardees based on enrollment unless an applicant requested a different amount.

The DOE says applicants had to demonstrate unique student and family mental health needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Priority consideration was given to applicant districts planning to provide direct mental health services to students and families.

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