Schools in the Bronx are getting an extra boost this year thanks to the Graduate School of Education’s Center for Educational Partnerships.
The center was recently awarded a $496,000 grant from the U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services to provide mental health awareness training to personnel serving public elementary schools in the Bronx. The goal is to help school staff learn the early signs of mental health disorders. Along with that, they will be able to provide referrals to external organizations that can provide consistent services to families.
“It’s about strengthening the connectivity of resources that are in the Bronx,” said Anita Batisti, Ph.D., associate dean at the GSE and director of the center.
“There are a lot of things going on, but everyone operates in silos, and we are trying to provide referrals to existing programs that the constituents can avail themselves of.”
The grant will last four years and each year serve eight elementary schools in the Bronx, conducting eight training sessions for 12 to 15 members of each school, such as the school’s staff psychologist, social worker, nurse, teachers, and school safety agents.
Dr. Kathleen Walsh, the center’s program coordinator said the sessions will begin in April.
“Say you’re a new guidance counselor in the school in the Bronx. You know your craft as a guidance counselor, but you don’t necessarily know all the resources available in the Bronx,” she said.
“So partnering with places like St. Barnabas Hospital, we’ll be able to say to them at these sessions, ‘If you see this sort of situation, and you need a person to refer to, here’s the place they could go.’ It will really help speed up the services that are given in a mental health situation.”
The center will focus its efforts on Bronx schools whose populations have higher mental health needs. The workshops will be specifically tailored to each school. Walsh noted as an example that one of the schools the center has worked with in the past suffered from the loss of community members to a fire; for them, consultants would emphasize access to trauma care.
This is the second major grant of this kind that the center has received recently. In 2021, the center was awarded a $580,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice—STOP School Violence Program to provide trauma-informed practices support to Bronx middle and high schools.
“It’s exciting that we have a part in it, certainly in a geographical area with a lot of need,” said Walsh.
“Everyone deserves good services. Who else but Fordham can do that?”