Del. Expands Mental Health Services In Elementary Schools

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Delaware elementary schools will be able to significantly expand mental health services.

Legislation signed by Governor John Carney Thursday (House Bill 100) establishes a mental health services unit for elementary schools, allowing them to hire more full-time counselors or social workers. $8-million was included in the Fiscal Year 2022 Delaware budget to support additional mental health services in elementary schools.

The measure will be fully funded in 2024, when districts and the Department of Education will work on plans to ensure that resources are helping the students of highest need.

“Delaware children come to school every day with unique challenges, and we should be ready to support them so they can have their best chance to be successful in the classroom,” Carney said. “We’ll continue to invest in our public schools to make sure all Delaware children get the education they need and deserve. There’s no higher priority.”

“For far too long, the mental health of our students has been treated as a secondary need – if even that much. Too many students have slipped between the gaps in our behavioral health network. The truth is, the mental health of our young students is vital to them growing, learning and becoming successful adults,” House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, D-Bear said. “HB 100 is a game-changer for our kids. It will establish a mental health services unit for Delaware elementary schools, allowing schools to hire more full-time school counselors, school social workers, or licensed clinical social workers to provide direct care for our youngest learners. By addressing the disparity and shortfall of mental health professionals in elementary schools, we will tackle the stresses and problems children face early, before they become a lifelong issue to overcome. I’m so grateful to Delaware State Education Association for their advocacy and determination to get this bill passed. Without them and so many others’ support, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve a unanimous victory on HB 100.”

“This important legislation allows districts to hire the appropriate mental health professionals so that teachers can concentrate on teaching and children can receive the critical services they need,” DSEA President Stephanie Ingram added. “HB 100 helps our youngest students and seeks to end the stigma around mental health.”

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