Governor Reynolds, Iowa DE award $325,000 to JCSD mental health support

Camp Dragon 2021 teacher helping two students

JCSD is one of 64 districts statewide to receive a GEER mental health grant to assist in providing mental health support and other wraparound services to students and families.

DES MOINES — Gov. Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Education have announced over $8.6 million in competitive grants awarded to 64 school districts to assist them in providing mental health support and other wraparound services to students and families. The Johnston Community School District has been awarded $325,000 as part of this initiative.

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.

“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.”

In Johnston, student well-being coordinator and grant writer Chris Wilson said some of the specific strategies the dollars will be put toward are:

  • Implementing additional Youth Mental Health First Aid Training for staff members and community partners
  • Improving access to school and community based therapeutic services
  • Training and supporting students to implement mental health awareness campaigns
  • Collaborating with community partners to expand suicide prevention

A total of 130 grant applications were received. Funding will be distributed equitably across awardees based on district-certified enrollment for 2020-21 school year unless an applicant requested a different amount. Applicants had to demonstrate unique student and family mental health needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Priority consideration was given to applicant districts proposing to provide direct mental health services to students and families.

The list of the 64 school districts along with their respective intended award amounts is available on the Iowa Department of Education’s website.

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