About one out of every six students in Washington have at least one emotional, behavioral or developmental condition. A federal grant recently awarded to the state will target those students, as well as any others, for help.

The five-year federal grant, called Project AWARE, was awarded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The $1.95 million a year Washington will receive will fund a number of activities, including:

  • building and expanding the capacity of state educational agencies to make schools safer,
  • improving school climate,
  • increasing awareness of mental health issues among youth and
  • providing training for school personnel and other adults to detect and respond to mental health issues in children and youth.

“Making sure students are safe, and that we can get them mental help information and help if they need it, is extremely important – not just to education, but to our communities as well,” said State Superintendent Randy Dorn. “This grant will help us expand the services we have, and create new services.”

A total of three districts – Battle Ground, Marysville and Shelton – will share the grant award. The districts were chosen based on need and their readiness to benefit from the grant.

Project AWARE brings together students, parents, educators, mental health providers, local law enforcement and juvenile justice agencies, as well as other community-based organizations, to talk about mental health promotion, school climate and violence prevention. The awarded districts and its partners will work to create a safe school environment that provides mental health services to students in need, addresses violence prevention, and establishes safe school policies.

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