The pandemic has taken a toll on the mental and emotional health of school-aged children in California. Everyone from classroom teachers to the Surgeon General of the United States has spoken about the impacts of school closures on children’s social and emotional well-being. The state Department of Education is launching a new program to provide $20,000 grants to 10,000 aspiring school counselors under the Golden State Teacher Grant Program.
“Our students deserve and need more support and we are grateful to have resources that we can use to help them. We recognize that it will take time to develop many of these resources. That’s why we got into so many,” California State Superintendent of Schools Tony Thurmond said at an event last Thursday announcing the new curriculum.
The new state budget includes $184 million to pay for teaching scholarships and other efforts to recruit more mental health counselors and clinicians.
Amy Bintliff, Ph.D., a professor and developmental psychologist who studies adolescent well-being at the University of California, San Diego, said the need for counselors in California is great.
“One in 300 young Californians has lost a parent or direct caregiver to COVID-19. That’s higher in California than nationally,” Bintliff said. “So we’re a state full of grieving children. And schools don’t necessarily have the resources to get through all of that without having quality counselors.”
Bintliff said California lags other states in the number of counselors per student. California has 527 students per counselor, more than double the recommended rate of 250 students per counselor, she said.
Students enrolled in a career preparation program leading to a teaching credential or a student personnel services credential on or after January 1, 2020 are eligible for a grant. Candidates for school counsellors, social workers and psychologists are eligible.
“The program supports individuals who commit to serve at a priority school in California for four years, within eight years of completing a readiness program,” said Nicholas Filipas, spokesperson for the Department of Education. California Education. “The application may include additional eligibility requirements, which should be available in the coming months.”
Bintliff joined Midday Edition on Tuesday to talk about the need for more school counselors in California.