DOE Expands School Mental Health Services

DOE Expands School Mental Health Services

The Department of Education (DOE) announced Friday that it is awarding $12.3 million to 35 school districts in 17 states to expand mental health services to elementary school students.

CNS News reported the DOE news release regarding the grants:

Research shows that having adequate counseling services canhelp reduce the number of disciplinary referrals in schools, improvestudent attendance and academic performance, and enhance development ofsocial skills.

Funds also may be used to support parentalinvolvement, counselor and teacher professional development, andcollaboration with community-based organizations that providemental-health and other services to students.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said,proven to be a great source of help for students with mental-healthissues.”

California is home to 11 of the school districts that willreceive grant funds. Two of the school districts are in Connecticutwhere the Sandy Hook shootings took place. The full list of schooldistricts receiving the grants is located at the DOE website.

CNS News reportedthat the grants announced on Friday were already anticipated prior tothe Sandy Hook shootings. Following the tragedy, however, Obamareportedly called for additional support for mental health services inschools.

In January, President Obama issued 23 gun violence executive orders. Accompanying his gun control plan were other proposals, among them a plan for a Comprehensive School Safety program which would provide $150 million to school districts and law enforcement agencies to hire upto 1,000 school resource officers, school psychologists, socialworkers, and counselors. 

The purpose of the Comprehensive School Safety plan was to assist school districts in hiring staff to help promote school safety. At the time, Obama said the grants would purchase school safety equipment, develop and update public safety plans, conduct threat assessments, and train crisis intervention teams.

Following President Obama’s announcement of his gun control plan, which included the Comprehensive School Safety program, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) expressed concerns about the “intertwining” of Obama’s gun control push and health initiatives through ObamaCare. The president’s gun control plan also included proposals that healthcare professionals be able to ask patients about firearms in their homes.

As Matthew Boyle of Breitbart News reported, Huelskamp worried that the Obama administration would coordinate features of ObamaCare that might invade patient privacy with the president’s gun control efforts.

“The intertwining of ObamaCare and President Obama’s new anti-gun agenda raises serious concerns,” said Huelskamp. “With earlier and on-going efforts by the Obama administration to invade personal liberties by collecting sensitive patient data, we should now be concerned that the administration wants to reassure providers that they can ask – and record information – about patients’ gun ownership and storage of firearms.”

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