A partnership with the Franklin County Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health (ADAMH) board -- including $200,000 in grants -- could make more mental health services available to students in the Groveport Madison school district.
District Dean of Students John Hurd told school board members at their July 9 meeting that he'd participated in discussions with the ADAMH board, and believes that by partnering with the agency, the district can secure the funding it needs to hire three full-time social workers from Concord Counseling Services in Westerville.
The effort was prompted by the suicide of a middle school student last year.
According to ADAMH planning documents, the organization is looking to expand its outreach to students through "school and community-based mental health services such as consultation, support groups facilitation, student assistance, (and) parental support."
Hurd said the size and diversity of the Groveport Madison district makes it a good fit for ADAMH to move in this direction in southeastern Franklin County.
"This was an opportunity for the ADAMH board to have a footprint in the southeast corner of Franklin County, so we jumped at it," he said. "We could receive about $200,000 in grant funding from ADAMH, and then we will need some additional federal funds, because the $200,000 provides for 2.25 people and we'd like to cover the other three-fourths (needed) for three full-time social workers."
The approximately $81,000 in additional funding would come from a Title 1 federal grant, according to district Treasurer Tony Swartz.
In order to finalize the agreements, the full ADAMH board will have to vote to approve the grant.
A tentative agreement for the funding was provided to Hurd so he could move forward with evaluating service providers, including Concord Counseling and Directions for Youth and Families, another local agency.
"Both providers have great programs," Hurd said. "I vetted the two different agencies and Concord best fit our needs. They're also working in New Albany, Westerville and Worthington schools."
He told the school board the focus of the social workers should be at the three middle schools, helping to supplement the current staff counselor's efforts and working directly with the most at-risk students to give them additional coping skills as they make the transition into high school.
Hurd said the social workers could be moved into other buildings on an as-needed basis, or during specific crisis situations.
"This benefit will help support our families and students who are at risk, and help our teachers and staff to address the moderate to severe behaviors," Superintendent Bruce Hoover said. "Our counselors are very busy, and while they do their best to help these kids, some of these mental health issues need to be addressed more full time. So for our small investment of time, we'll get three full-time professionals, which is a great option."
Once the ADAMH board has an opportunity to review and vote on the district's proposal in August, the school board will be asked to give the agreement final approval before the social workers begin working in the district.