"We aim to help schools adopt the most effective approaches known in the field, build their capacity to serve more children and families, and ensure the sustainability of school-based mental health supports over time."
Bainum Family Foundation Announces School-Based Mental Health Initiative, Invests $4.1 Million to Expand Services in D.C.
BETHESDA, MARYLAND and WASHINGTON, DC (November 7, 2017) — Building on its commitment to improve the lives of children and families living in poverty in the District of Columbia’s Wards 7 and 8, the Bainum Family Foundation today announced investments of $4.1 million over four years to expand school-based mental health services in these wards.
This work will help the Foundation meet its 2020 strategic goal of adding 2,000 wrap-around support seats in Wards 7 and 8 to increase students’ social-emotional well-being, while sharing knowledge and lessons learned with the mental health field. It also complements the Foundation’s existing investments in early learning and food access for these same neighborhoods.
Conducted in partnership with the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools (CHHCS), part of the George Washington University's Milken Institute School of Public Health, this effort began in 2016 with a comprehensive needs assessment in the District and a year-long learning partnership with two District charter schools (DC Prep and Monument Academy).
Findings of this initial work supported the development of a three-year strategy to increase mental health supports available to children and families in Wards 7 and 8 and to advance the overall field of school-based mental health. The strategy, which is being launched this Fall, includes:
Identifying a group of four charter elementary and middle schools in Wards 7 and 8 to participate in a Community of Practice. CHHCS and the Foundation will provide three years of training and technical assistance in the areas of mental health data, coordination and universal prevention as each school implements best practices tailored to its unique needs and then evaluates outcomes.
- Convening and leading a District-wide Learning Community of local school-based mental health stakeholders (practitioners, researchers, policy makers and school administrators) to leverage existing expertise and coordinate and share resources. The group will launch in January and meet bimonthly.
Working with national partners — including CHHCS; the Center for School Mental Health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine; and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — to connect and convene national experts to advance school-based mental health. The goal of these meetings is to discuss local, state and federal strategies to strengthen the availability and quality of school-based mental health services for children, youth and families. The first of a series of meetings took place in D.C. in September 2017. The Foundation will be a key partner in gathering and disseminating relevant information to help strengthen the field.
“School-based mental health is a key element of our Foundation’s Wrap-Around Support strategy,” said Barbara Bainum, Chair of the Board, CEO and President of the Foundation. “Our mission is to support the whole child to help them thrive. This needs to include comprehensive supports to address children’s social and emotional development. Schools are an effective way to deliver such services because they already play a central role in the lives of children and families.”
According to Olga Acosta Price, PhD, Director of CHHCS and founding director of the District’s long-standing School Mental Health Program, the needs assessment affirmed the challenges faced by children and families in the east end: an elevated need for mental health services due to the high-stress factors that result from living in poverty, coupled with low availability of resources (clinics and practitioners) in their communities. Further, available services in D.C. focus largely on high-need children rather than early identification and prevention for all children.
“The District has a good record of investing in school mental health over the past two decades, but there are still gaps, a lack of coordination of services and no systematic way to make decisions or share resources,” Acosta Price said. “Through the new strategy we have developed with the Foundation, we aim to help schools adopt the most effective approaches known in the field, build their capacity to serve more children and families, and ensure the sustainability of school-based mental health supports over time.”