A $300,000 grant from the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board of Franklin County is being used by the South-Western City School District to expand a program offering mental health and social services to elementary and high school students.
The program offers mental health, alcohol and other drug prevention and early intervention services to students.
The district and ADAMH work directly with staff members from Directions for Youth and Families, said Patrick Callaghan, South-Western's assistant superintendent of curriculum.
"This effort is just an excellent example of how community and school can work together for the benefit of our students," Callaghan said.
On their own, teachers, counselors and building administrators would not have the time or expertise to help students and their families find the assistance they need, he said.
"I'm an educator, and I know about helping students learn," he said. "Directions for Youth has the expertise. They are on the pulse and know exactly where students and families need to go to get the assistance they need."
If a student is having trouble getting to school, for example, a Directions for Youth representative can visit the student's home and talk to the family to help determine what issues are causing the absences and how those issues can be best addressed, Callaghan said.
The underlying issues that may be leading to behavioral problems at school may be beyond the purview of district personnel, he said.
Before partnering with ADAMH, the district was able to use federal funds to provide some support services to elementary age students, Callaghan said.
When those federal dollars began to run out, the district reached out to ADAMH to help continue the effort, "because we saw the gains that had been made for our students," he said.
The $300,000 grant from the agency is allowing for the expansion of the program this year, Callaghan said.
"It allows us to connect with our students and their families and get them the support and help they need," he said.