We use a big chunk of our site budget to buy mental health support at my site. We are one of the District's schools in a partnership with UCSF, which provides us professional development and a post-doc therapist. That's free to us. The STAR program buys you a half-time Learning Support Professional - more or less a school social worker. Our school budgets to make that a full-time position.
We also have had PIP, a play therapy program. I spend a decent chunk of my time scheming how to get as many of my students as possible into the sixteen available K-3 slots. This is a state Early Mental Health Initiative program and I've been to the EMHI conference twice through this program (extremely worth it from a professional development perspective; also, I like to wear my nice clothes and breezily inform acquaintances that I am "traveling for work").
Last year, as part of our giant annual Edgewood contract, we had a full-time Behavior Support Coach. The coach did social-emotional skills groups, one on one counseling, and worked with classes whose dynamic had taken a bad turn - for instance, the class whose teacher went into early labor, thereby leaving before expected, in a way frightening for some students, and without a ready-to-go long-term substitute. This was a huge support, so we budgeted it in this year. We couldn't afford it without support from Edgewood's own state grants.
We heard today that we won't have a BSC next year.
This is frightening, not only because we are expecting the same bunch of smart kids with more than anyone's fair share of trauma, but also because word has it that we will be getting a decent number of kids from Willie Brown.
Willie Brown's last year was apparently not so awesome. This story hints at the problems a bit, but the teacher grapevine included really miserable reports, and any time the principal's replaced halfway through the year you know things are bad. I think we can expect that the kids from Willie Brown are likely to be dealing with the psychological implications of their last year there, and it's not too hard to imagine that they will be academically behind.
It strikes me that if we're getting some of these kids, we really need all the help we can get. A lot of high-needs schooling is relationships, and we don't have any with these kids. Moreover, their last school experience puts us in the red to start: it's all the school district, after all.
Here's hoping something good happens to get us our Behavior Coach back.