Hillsborough County Public Schools has been awarded a five-year School-based Mental Health (SBMH) grant for approximately $8.5 million. The grant is funded through the United States Department of Education, Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities-National Programs. Federal funds will contribute $8,562,135 (75 percent) towards the School-based Mental Health project and non-federal match funds will contribute $2,140,534 (25 percent). In-kind match funds include the salary of supplemental social workers providing mental health supports in the district.

This School-based Mental Health Service project will implement a comprehensive recruitment and retention plan with the goal of increasing the number of credentialed school-based mental health service providers serving Hillsborough County Public Schools students. The comprehensive strategy outlined in the project includes activities that focus on restructuring compensation, recruiting personnel from diverse backgrounds that reflect the demographic makeup of the district’s students and providing a robust array of professional development opportunities to support new and existing staff members. 

The district expects that the project will result in the following outcomes: 

Increased recruitment of school psychologists, school counselors and school social workers to mirror student demographics.

Stabilization of staff retention rates.

Increased availability of school-based mental health resources for students, teachers and administrators.

Improved local capacity to support school-based mental health service providers through the provision of high-quality professional development opportunities.

Formalization of district partnerships with Institutes of Higher Education (IHEs) to create a pipeline of future applicants.

Students’ mental health needs are increasing at an exponential rate, and there are simply not enough resources available within schools or through community providers to meet the identified needs. It is expected the implementation of this SBMH project will provide the funds to recruit new, highly qualified mental health-based employees, including approximately 30-40 school counselors, 10-20 school psychologists and 20-30 school social workers. In addition, the funds from the SBMH project will provide robust, supportive professional development to retain current staff, all to meet the growing mental health needs of our students throughout the district.

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