Twelve DuPage school districts awarded $2.9m for mental health care

The DuPage Regional Office of Education announced that the Illinois Department of Public Health awarded $2,946,210 in grants to 12 DuPage County school districts. These grants will expand mental health services for students and families.

Amber Quirk, the regional superintendent of DuPage County schools, said the DuPage Regional Office of Education will partner with some of the school districts to promote health equity and to support CARES Clinics.

CARES Clinics benefit at-risk and low-income students by providing no-cost mental health care outside of school hours via telehealth or at participating clinicians' offices.

According to Quirk, the DuPage ROE recognizes the importance of easy access to mental health services and is thankful for the efforts of DuPage schools to advance mental health and wellness for students.

Quirk says the ROE will establish a stakeholder committee, facilitate professional development and provide training on health equity - while working alongside the grantees to ensure quality mental health care is easily accessible for students.

Quirk says the experiences of Adrian Talley, superintendent of Indian Prairie Unit District 204, and Amit Thaker, founder and CEO of ReferralGPS, are pivotal to the success of the CARES Clinics.

"We appreciate them sharing the successes and lessons learned from their mental health pilot program last year," said Quirk. The name "CARES" is an acronym for Community, Advocacy, Resilience, Engagement and Support, which are themes important to the mission of the Regional Office of Education and the various school districts, Quirk said.

In total, the Illinois Department of Public Health awarded $9.5 million in funding to 40 different applicants across the state to support post-pandemic child and adolescent health. The funding is primarily from the CDC's COVID-19 Public Health Workforce Supplemental Funding program authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), plus $500,000 in state dollars.

"We recognize that the last few years have presented numerous challenges for all of us, and this is especially so for our youth," Gov. Pritzker said in a news release. "Thanks to this infusion of federal funding, we are strengthening school-based programs and local agencies that serve the mental health needs of young people all across Illinois. I applaud the Biden Administration for recognizing the need to direct resources to these kinds of programs that support our youth."

In related news, last month the DuPage Regional Office of Education and 42 school districts also applied for a separate grant from the Illinois Department of Public Health to expand access to mental health services by creating the DuPage Wellness Collaborative, the results of which have yet to be announced.

Nine districts received $249,000 (Bloomingdale Elementary District 13, Downers Grove High School District 99, DuPage High School District 88-Addison, Elmhurst Unit District 205, Fenton High School District 100-Bensenville, Glenbard Township High School District 87-Glen Ellyn, Marquardt Elementary District 15-Glendale Heights; Salt Creek Elementary District 48-Villa Park; and Villa Park Elementary District 45).

Also, Downers Grove Grade School District 58 received $332,592.62; Gower School District 62 (Willowbrook), $124,031.88; and Indian Prairie School District 204 (Aurora), $248,585.

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