First State lawmakers approve boosting mental health resources in schools
State lawmakers passed legislation last week improving mental health services in First State schools.
The legislation calls for elementary schools to hire more counselors, licensed clinical social workers, and school social workers for grades K-5.
It also changes the ratios of counselors to students, allowing for 250 full-time students for every counselor and 700 students for every psychologist, while prioritizing disadvantaged students and students with special needs.
State Sen. Ernie Lopez (R-Lewes) is a co-sponsor, and he says this bill helps more than the students.
"And we need more school psychologists, not just for our kids, but just to have in our communities," said Lopez. "When we talk about 30-year jobs for the next generation of Delawareans now we have with this piece of legislation the opportunity for Delaware State University graduates, University of Delaware graduates, and graduates from Delaware schools to be able to stay in state who want to work with kids to be school psychologists."
State Sen. Marie Pinkney (D-New Castle) is a bill sponsor, and she says the measure will allow teachers to focus on their main job.
"This bill will allow you to forge those relationships, but will also allow you the chance to in your classroom continue to focus on educating the students which is what you spent your career and dedicated your career to do while having someone else to be a partnership with you to help manage those real emotions those real situations that all of your students are going through," said Pinkney. "So this bill is really going to have some amazing impacts."
The hiring for counselors and psychologists will happen over a three-year period.
The legislation awaits Gov. Carney’s signature.