Nevada – In 2014, the Nevada Department of Health and Human Service’s Division of Public and Behavioral Health was one of only 7 states to receive the federal Safe Schools/Healthy Students grant.
The award is for $8,677,011 over 4 years ($2,035,011 for the first year and $2,214,000 for each of the next 3 years) and will fund pilot studies in Lyon, Washoe and Nye which will develop and evaluate the effectiveness of school programs designed to improve behavioral health.
The sub-grants will be awarded to the Children’s Cabinet of Northern Nevada on behalf of the Washoe County School District; the Healthy Communities Coalition of Lyon and Storey on behalf of the 18 schools of the Lyon County School District; and the Nye Community Coalition on behalf of the Nye County School District.
For the first time, the grant was awarded at the state level in order to create linkage on all levels of government, schools and community based coalitions to identify ways to improve behavioral health in the three pilot school districts.
The funding helps Healthy Communities Coalition continue to develop an innovative “Health Services Hub”, a coordinated effort among many direct service providers and the Lyon School District to increase access not only to medical, vision, dental and preventative services, but also to increase residents’ access to mental health care and substance abuse prevention and treatment. In the Lyon County School District, Superintendent Keith Savage commented, “The Lyon County School District is both honored and grateful to receive the sub-grant from the Nevada Department of Health and Human Service’s Division of Public and Behavioral Health. We look forward to working with our partner, Healthy Communities Coalition, to use the Safe Schools/Healthy Students funding to create and implement a plan which utilizes agencies across the county to address suicide prevention, substance abuse and school safety for our students. This sub-grant will enhance the collaborative environment we have created between the District and other agencies and community members to meet these goals.”
The funding will initially be used to gather data and conduct research. The next phase is to create and implement plans, and the final phase is to evaluate the effectiveness. Ultimately the goals of the grant are to: 1) increase the number of children and youth who have access to behavioral health services in the pilot regions; 2) decrease the number of students who abuse substances; 3) increase supports for early childhood development; 4) improve school climates; and 5) reduce the number of students who are exposed to violence.
If the plans are successful and the pilot groups achieve their goals, the program will be implemented statewide.
“Addressing suicide, substance abuse and unsafe schools is of critical importance and significant need across the Country for school aged children. I am particularly proud to receive this grant for Nevada knowing it will have a positive impact in the lives of our young people – who are our future,” said Mike Willden, Director of Nevada Department of Health and Human Services.
The Safe Schools/Healthy Students funding comes to Nevada through the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which awarded a total of $56.9 million in grants over four years to 7 states for the Safe Schools/Healthy Students program.
This round of grants will support state and community partnerships to create safe and supportive schools and communities by building partnerships among educational, behavioral health, and juvenile justice systems. SAMHSA plans to award seven grants of up to $2,035,014 each annually over the course of four years.