Philadelphia will put social workers in 22 public schools this academic year as part of a pilot program to improve behavioral health services for city students.
The program is part of a partnership with the school district, the city, and city agencies, which the partners hope to expand to all schools in the future. As the program progresses, the district and the city will add behavioral health consultants, case managers, and family peer specialists to work with school nurses, counselors, and school psychologists who are already at the schools.
The program, which will cost about $1.2 million, will place the social workers at 21 regular public schools and one charter school, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“This pilot will help show our children that we don’t just care how they do in school. We care about them,” Jim Kenney, the city’s mayor, said in announcing the program last week. “We want to help them thrive in every area of their life, and we want to support their families too.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Kristen A. Graham wrote about the dearth of counselors and other staff to help students with behavioral and emotional needs in some city schools: Southwark Elementary, for example—one of the schools slated to receive a counselor—has one counselor for 800 students, she wrote.
Years of budget and staffing cuts have thinned the number of nurses and counselors in the district. Last year, the district announced that it planned to hire 60 nurses and 50 counselors, and Superintendent William Hite pledged to have a school nurse and counselor in every school.
A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.