$6M grant to fund mental health services

The Kern County Superintendent of Schools (KCSOS) and Kern Behavioral Health & Recovery Services (KernBHRS) have announced the agencies were awarded a $6 million Mental Health Student Services Act (MHSSA) grant from the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC).

The funding will be used to support the Kern Youth Resiliency Partnership (KYRP) — a collaboration between KCSOS, the Kern County Network for Children (KCNC), and KernBHRS— which was recently formed to provide direct mental health supports for foster youth and homeless youth. KYRP will improve the cross-agency continuum of mental health care within five local school districts: Bakersfield City School District, Greenfield Union School District, Kern County Superintendent of Schools, Kern High School District, and Panama Buena Vista Union School District, and will specifically address the following identified needs:

• Provide after-hours (and during school hours), school-based mental health services with targeted supports for foster and homeless youth.

• Provide substance abuse prevention training and treatment for youth and families.

• Implement a cross-age, peer-to-peer mentoring program for foster and homeless youth.

• Provide targeted professional learning and capacity building for school based mental health professionals and staff including the following: trauma-informed care training, suicide prevention, and depression and chronic sadness.

• Develop a more streamlined referral process and address gaps in the continuum of care system.

• Provide mental health awareness outreach and education.

“This is an incredible opportunity for KCSOS and district partners to provide direct services that address the mental and emotional health needs of foster and homeless students at their school sites,” said Curt Williams, Director – Foster Youth Services and Homeless Education Programs at KCSOS. “The partnership is designed to provide targeted campus-based mental health services that will build resiliency, improve school connectedness and attendance, and increase access to mental health services for the most at-risk youth in Kern County.”

Countywide data show that homeless youth are twice as likely to be chronically absent than other youth in Kern County. Foster Youth are three times more likely to be suspended. Further, foster and homeless youth are three times more likely to drop out of school. During the 2018-19 school year, Kern County homeless students had a 63 percent high school graduation rate, compared to a rate of 87 percent for Kern County high school students overall. Within a single year, 97 percent of homeless students move up to three times and 40 percent attend two different schools. Children are estimated to lose four to six months of academic progress per move, which puts most foster care children years behind their peers.
For more information regarding Mental Health Student Services Act (MHSSA), please visit https://mhsoac.ca.gov/