Gov. Reynolds designates $11.5 million to support mental health services for students, community college efforts

Iowa News

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds speaks during an American Workforce Policy Advisory Board Meeting in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on June 26, 2020. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

DES MOINES, Iowa (KCAU) — Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Education announced Thursday that more than $11.5 million in federal relief funding will go towards supporting mental health services to pre-K to 12 students and community college efforts.

According to a release, the $11.5 million will help pre-K-12 school districts coordinate and deliver mental health services and wraparound support to students, youth mental health first aid training and implementation, and suicide prevention services and programming. It will also support community college efforts in expanding programming to help more Iowans earn short-term credentials needed for in-demand careers and other wraparound services for pre-k-12 students.

The $11.5 million is Iowa’s share of more than $1.3 billion in funds proved through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER II Fund), which is part of the federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act passed in December 2020.

“While the true cost of this pandemic is yet unknown, we’re already aware of the devastating mental health effects on our young people,” said Gov. Reynolds. “Expanding mental health services in our schools is critical to their overall recovery. When we care for the whole child, we secure better outcomes for them and their families.”   

Of the $11.5 million, $8.67 million of grants will go towards mental health and wraparound services for students, with the remaining $2.89 million helping Iowa’s community colleges supplement the state’s GAP Tuition Assistance Program, which helps Iowans whose jobs were impacted by the pandemic to enroll in short-term training and credential programs leading to high-demand jobs.

“These additional resources will help schools expand services to address growing social-emotional-behavioral health needs and support the overall well-being of students affected by the pandemic,” said Ann Lebo, director of the Iowa Department of Education. “In addition, increasing financial assistance through the GAP Tuition Assistance Program will help more Iowans gain the skills needed for good-paying, high-demand jobs in Iowa, both today and in the future.”  

Last fall, Iowa received $26.2 million through the first round of GEER funding within the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which Gov. Reynolds designated to expand broadband access and increase internet connectivity for students for the 2020-21 school year.

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