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Federal funding coming to Colorado to support student mental health


Federal funding coming to Colorado to support student mental health

Oct 04, 2022 | 3:31 pm ET
By Lindsey Toomer
Federal funding coming to Colorado to support student mental health
Colorado has received more than $1.1 billion in COVID-19 relief money for the safe return to in-person learning. (File photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

Colorado will see more than $9 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Education to help create safer and healthier learning environments for school students. 

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act designates nearly $1 billion to states in the Southwest and West to support student mental health and reduce gun violence. The states receiving funding will have to develop competitive grant programs to help local educational agencies in the greatest need of support. Colorado will receive a total of $9,356,572 from the program.

“There’s a whole generation of Americans that have grown up feeling unsafe at school as a result of our country’s gun violence epidemic,” Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado said in a statement. “Following two years of COVID-19 and sky-rocketing social media use, our children also face increased rates of depression, anxiety, trauma, and other mental and behavioral health crises that affect their ability to learn and succeed at school. People are demanding action to protect our children — and through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, we have made important progress to create safer educational environments.”

Bennet and Colorado’s other U.S. senator, Democrat John Hickenlooper, voted in favor of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act in June, as did all four Democrats from Colorado in the U.S. House. All three Republicans from Colorado in the U.S. House voted against the bill.

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A news release from Bennet’s office said the funds can be used for schools without the resources to hire enough school-based mental health providers, and also to improve school trauma treatment programs. 

According to the U.S. Department of Education, safe and supportive schools proved to be most effective in promoting academic success for students, as well as social, emotional, physical and mental well-being. State educational agencies are encouraged to prioritize schools committed to implementing evidence-based strategies meeting student needs, engaging school communities in implementing strategies, and designing equity-based policies and practices that are responsive to underserved students. 

“We have years of evidence that demonstrate the value of building safe and supportive schools. These efforts improve academic achievement, promote emotional well-being, reduce disciplinary actions, and increase positive behaviors,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a news release. “Safe and supportive schools help our children and youth overcome challenges and provide a strong foundation for school safety. These grants will provide real benefits to real students in real schools.”

Three additional grant programs launched Monday to increase access to mental and behavioral health services as a partnership between the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services. The $280 million in funding for these programs also comes from the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.