June 24, 2020

HCPSS Budget Protects Funding for School-Based Mental Health Services

Howard County Board of Education Protects Funding for School-Based Mental Health Services

Last week, the Howard County Board of Education unanimously passed its operating and capital budgets for the 2020-2021 school year. The operating budget includes full funding for a program that provides mental health services to students.

Over the past year, a program jointly funded by the school system and the Horizon Foundation has significantly expanded mental health services in 30 schools. This program, which has already provided personalized help to hundreds of students, makes it easier for students to access services, including one-on-one counseling, during the school day.

“At a time when COVID-19 has brought significant disruptions and changes to our children’s lives, it is imperative that we ensure students are able to get the support they need, both now and however they return to school in the fall,” said Nikki Highsmith Vernick, president and CEO of the Horizon Foundation. “We are thrilled that the Board of Education included funding for this critical program in next year’s budget and we thank all of our partners, grantees and community members who raised their voice to support the mental health of our students.”

Across the nation and locally, school systems are recognizing the major opportunity they have to support students’ mental health. In fact, more than 70 percent of students receiving mental health services access them in the school setting. Lack of access to mental health services, along with negative stigma, have prevented many students and their families from finding the support they need. Offering a full range of school-based mental health services and regularly evaluating student outcomes will better position HCPSS to support students now and expand this program into the future.

THANK YOU to the 57 Howard County organizations and the several hundred of you who took action and showed your support for continued funding of this program. Working together, we have improved and will continue to improve access to mental health services for our children!

Read our joint letter to the Howard County Board of Education.