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Detroit Public Schools Get $5 Million For Mental Health Care Services

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Image credit: Jake Neher/WDET

Detroit Schools students and teachers report that they feel unprepared for the social and emotional challenges faced on top of homework and tests. Two new initiatives aim to help.

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The Detroit Public Schools Community District received $5 million in grants and additional funds to augment behavioral and mental health services throughout the district earlier this month.


Click on the player above to hear WDET Civic Reporter Eleanore Catolico talk about school funding for mental health care.


The Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network awarded the district a two-year, $2 million grant to launch the School Success Initiative pilot program targeting a handful of area schools which the district has identified as having significant achievement obstacles. These schools are Cody, East English Village Preparatory, and Pershing High Schools; Dixon, Mason and Ronald Brown Elementary School.

The initiative will focus on providing these schools with robust service teams that will include a social worker, a nurse, a counselor, and other behavioral and mental health professionals.

Our schools and their employees must overcome the daily socio-emotional challenges our children face every day. We cannot simply focus on teaching and learning,” - Detroit Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti

Feeling unsafe in school

Students have more than just test scores and homework to deal with.U.S. Department of Education

Students have more than just test scores and homework to deal with.

A 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey reported that Detroit students’ concerns over school safety, 10.4 percent, and one or more attempts of suicide in the last twelve months before the survey, 13.7 percent, were greater than the overall state percentages reported in Michigan for these categories.   

Detroit Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti says this grant will help fill a funding gap for behavioral and mental health services current federal and state education budgets do not address.  

Unfortunately, federal and state education funding does not take into account that our schools and their employees must overcome the daily socio-emotional challenges our children face every day. This means we cannot simply focus on teaching and learning,” Vitti said in a statement. “This grant starts the process of building an integrated system of support and care for students where we properly apply real time screenings, intervention, and support on school campuses to our families and students.”  


This report was based on notes taken at DPSCD’s Curriculum/Academics Sub-Committee Meeting by Detroit Documenters


Training teachers, counselors 

University of Michigan’s Transforming Research into Action to Improve the Lives of Students (TRAILS) will supply $3 million in additional funding to support professional development opportunities and resources for all DPSCD Pre K-12 staff. These trainings will help foster mental health and wellness in the learning environment. TRAILS will also work with the University of Michigan’s Youth Policy Lab to perform a needs assessment to determine high areas of concern for the district.

More than 75 percent of staff showed interest in attaining resources and tools to provide support to students impacted by trauma or mental illness.

A staff survey conducted by TRAILS in May found that more than 75 percent of staff showed interest in attaining resources and tools to provide support to students impacted by trauma or mental illness and training in best practices for those students with depression or anxiety. There was consensus among more than 50 percent of staff surveyed that their schools currently don’t have the established programming necessary to address these needs.

The district will also be looking to hire a behavioral director, develop a sustainable funding plan for these services and a health track record system that will inform service coordination for students and monitor health outcomes.  


Eleanore Catolico, Civic Reporter

Eleanore Catolico is Civic Reporter with 101.9 WDET, covering local affairs with the Detroit Documenters program. She enjoys techno.


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This post is a part of Detroit Documenters .

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