Austin Independent School District has received a grant of nearly $4.5 million from the Office of the Governor to provide mental health services to elementary children and their families who are victims of crime.
Twenty-two elementary campuses will each have two staff dedicated to delivering therapeutic services to students and families. The funds are from the federal Victims of Crime Assistance Act of 1984.
“This grant will help provide valuable services for Texas elementary children who are victims of crime and their families,” says Gov. Greg Abbott. “This grant will help ensure that these young students’ lives are not defined by the crimes they have experienced.”
The 22 elementary schools fall within the “east Austin crescent” pattern of high child maltreatment identified by a 2012 study from Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas and Children’s Optimal Health. Left untreated, child victims often fail to develop socially and emotionally, and are more likely to respond to stress through such behaviors as aggression, dissociation and avoidance.
“Austin schools are at the forefront of recognizing the importance of addressing children’s mental health to ensure student success,” says Michelle Harper, VP for Child and Family Policy at The Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute for Texas. “The expected successes from this [grant] will serve as a model for other Texas school districts.”