U.S. Secretary of Education visits the First State to announce new funding for schools
Colonial School District’s Eisenberg Elementary, the first elementary school in the state to open a wellness center with integrated mental health supports, hosted a roundtable discussion with U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.
To kick off the event, Cardona announced $4.8 million dollars of new federal funding from the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to support healthier learning environments in Delaware.
The roundtable brought parents, educators, health professionals, and state and local officials together to discuss issues such as increasing student mental health literacy and addressing the state’s education and healthcare worker shortages.
And Cardona says Delaware’s collaborative approach should be more widespread.
“The way this community locally, statewide, and federally has wrapped their arms around children is a model that I want to see across the country, it really is. They get it. And they got it right,” said Cardona. “This, what I call intentional collaboration, it’s not a fluke. It was built up, and as a result the children and families here have better support, better services, than most of the other schools I visited as Secretary of Education.”
Cardona pointed to Delaware’s ability to communicate across institutions to discuss the needs of students and implement cross-system solutions collaboratively as a reason to use the state as a model for the rest of the country.
On the topic of mental health literacy, Senator Chris Coons says conversations about mental health are crucial- and could aid in teaching students to recognize when they need to ask for help.
“Being a child, being a student, being an adolescent has always been difficult, but in many ways it’s more difficult now than it was before,” said Coons. “And we need to give the opportunity, through real conversations, meaningful conversations about mental health, for students to be able to speak out and to say ‘this is what I need’ and for districts to be able to work with families and to deliver the resources to meet those needs.”
The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act was supported by Delaware’s entire congressional delegation, including Coons, along with Senator Tom Carper and Congresswoman Blunt Rochester. The Act includes legislation co-written by Carper that addresses youth mental health, and Coons helped negotiate the text of the legislation.
A portion of the funding Delaware received will go toward helping schools provide mental health resources to students K-12.
The $4.8 million announced for Delaware is part of a total of $2 billion announced nationwide, with $1 billion used for creating safer and healthier learning environments, and another $1 billion to increase the number of school-based health professionals.