Fairbanks North Star School District receives $5 million grant for mental health and trauma services

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A $5 million grant is being awarded to the Alaska Department of Education from the U.S. Department of Education Safe and Supportive Schools office.

Helen Clark explains the importance of mental health services in school. (Carly Sjordal, KTVF)

The grant is called the Alaska Trauma and Recovery in Schools Demonstration Grant. It was discussed in the annual board report to the Legislature at its quarterly meeting on December 4.

The grant will be specifically focused on trauma engaged environments in school. A piece of the fund will be distributed district wide.

According to Helen Clark, the Executive Director of Federal Programs for the Fairbanks North star school district, the schools most intimately affected will be Arctic Light Elementary, Hunter Elementary, Ryan Middle School and Lathrop high School. “It’s a ‘feeder system’ approach that we decided upon ahead of time -- high poverty schools with a lot of high needs students,” said Clark.

Clark says that this will allow the school district to have better coordination with the Alaska Child Trauma Center to provide students with more immediate care. They plan to hire 5 social workers from the Alaska Child Trauma Center to offer onsite and offsite services if need be.

“It helps expedite mental health services for any student in need, and so it’s not meant to limit a need. We know in Alaska that one in two children will have experienced at least one adverse experience before entering kindergarten, and as many as three before graduating from high school,” commented Clark.

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