In an effort to expand mental health and wellbeing services in local schools, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Wednesday approved a motion by Supervisor Kathryn Barger to explore expanding the Community School Initiative.
“As students return to school full time, the weight of the last year and a half still weighs on them mentally and emotionally,” Barger said. “This is a critical time to expand onsite mental health services to ensure youth can thrive both in the classroom and in daily life.”
Currently, the program is implemented at 15 school sites, including Littlerock High School in the Antelope Valley Union High School District. An additional 10 regional teams comprised of 45 total members are also deployed countywide. Wednesday’s motion seeks to sustain the initiative and identify communities and school districts with a high need for mental health services where the county can expand the program.
“The Community Schools Initiative (CSI) has proven effective and, with the detrimental impacts on student mental health brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is even more important to continue and expand it to school campuses across Los Angeles County,” said Supervisor Chair Hilda L. Solis, who coauthored the motion. “This initiative brings a range of county resources, including mental health and social services, directly into our schools – providing a hub to address the many inequities our youth should not have to face. It’s due time to commit to and expand the CSI model further and this motion does just that.”
Initially passed in January 2019, the initiative fostered collaboration between the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health and Los Angeles County Office of Education to provide access to mental health services. The initiative was then expanded in April 2019 to implement prevention-focused mental health services.
“Expansion of the LACOE Community Schools Initiative highlights our deep commitment to our students and a strong statement to our youth, their families and educators that their mental health and wellbeing are a top priority in LA County,” said Dr. Jonathan Sherin, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Department of Mental Health. “The Department of Mental Health has long-standing partnerships with numerous school districts which have been accelerated in recent years, and most robustly since the pandemic hit; we must build out schools as trusted community platforms that facilitate access to resources supporting mental health and wellbeing. Our commitment to school districts across the county is unwavering.”
Supervisor Holly Mitchell added an amendment to the motion that includes the Los Angeles Unified School District in the expansion of the program.
[Information via news release by the office of Supervisor Kathryn Barger.]