by Dan Schrack
Wednesday, April 13th 2022
This year, advocacy groups are asking families to call for more mental health supports.
“Now is the time to invest. It won’t be as easy going forward. Now is the time to invest,” Eamonn Scanlon, policy director for The Children’s Agenda, said.
From COVID to rising crime, the past few years have been a challenge for students, he said.
“We really want to make sure that students are getting the support they need as they re-integrate back into the school community,” he said.
This year, Scanlon said an infusion of emergency federal funding gives RCSD the chance to make that happen.
The current draft budget proposal earmarks just over $8 million for social-emotional supports. These include help zones, calming rooms, restorative training, and mental health supports.
The Children’s Agenda believes a greater investment here would prove positive.
Youth advocate Gail Berkes agrees.
“These kids have been going through some traumatic stuff,” she said.
Berkes believes had some of these systems been in placer when she was a child, life may have been a little easier. In 1970, in between fifth and sixth grade, her mother died unexpectedly.
It wasn’t until decades later that Berkes learned that experience likely stunted some of her educational growth.
“When [I learned that], it brought so much sense to it. It gave me such a relief to know that something happened in my life that stopped me from excelling,” she said.
Without more help now, it’s a realization advocates fear an entire generation will experience.
“This is the moment to go and speak and be heard because the hundreds of millions of dollars in federal support won’t be here in two years. And so there is more money now than there will be probably for decades for parents to decide where the money goes,” Scanlon said.
13WHAM reached out to RCSD for comment, but has not heard back.
The public hearing on the budget begins at 5:30 p.m. Thursday and may be viewed here.
The Children’s Agenda advocates for effective policies and drives evidenced-based solutions for the health, education and success of children. We are especially committed to children who are vulnerable because of poverty, racism, health inequities and trauma.