Home Advocate Impact on Education will fund 4 Mental Health Advocates for Marshall Fire Schools

Impact on Education will fund 4 Mental Health Advocates for Marshall Fire Schools

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Impact on Education, the foundation of the Boulder Valley School District, has raised approximately $800,000 to provide additional mental health support to schools in Louisville and Superior following the Marshall fire.

Most of the money will go towards paying four mental health advocates next year to work with students and their families affected by the fire. Two of the advocates, along with a school nurse and a housing advocate, will also be working through the summer to support students.

“It was really important to have mental health support over the summer,” said Impact Education’s executive director, Allison Billings. “School has been a stabilizing force in their lives. Six months after the disaster also tends to be a really, really tough time, and that will be this summer. »

About 800 Boulder Valley students and 50 staff were displaced by the Marshall Fire, including about 500 students whose homes were destroyed. A total of 2,356 students and 192 staff live within the boundaries of the burned area.

To request assistance, families can fill out a form at bvsd.org/current-topics/marshall-fire.

The additional impact-funded mental health advocates are part of a larger Boulder Valley effort to increase post-fire mental health support.

The district is also providing additional mental health support to these students through state and federal emergency grants, including hiring more school counselors and nurses. Additionally, the district has added outreach positions using two coronavirus relief grants for the federal McKinney-Vento program, which helps students without adequate housing.

“This is not a situation that will be resolved in days or weeks,” Boulder Valley Superintendent Rob Anderson said in a statement. “We must be ready to help our neighbors for the many months and years it will take to not only rebuild, to feel safe again and to get back to normal.”

For the mental health advocates hired with $600,000 in Impact funding, two have worked at Boulder Valley schools hardest hit by the fires since February, with two more starting next week. In total, the district will have 15 mental health advocates next year.

Billings said Impact quickly identified long-term mental health support as a key need after the fire and began fundraising. The district received 358 referrals from students in need of mental assistance in the first semester of this school year, she said, then more than 900 in the two weeks after the fire, which broke out. produced during the winter holidays.

Boulder Valley Mental Health Advocates support student social-emotional and behavioral development and achievement, as well as crisis intervention. Their work includes group and individual counseling, as well as helping families access community resources.

Billings noted that the additional mental health advocates will help free up bandwidth for school counselors, allowing them to support more students who weren’t impacted by the fire.

In addition to mental health advocates, money raised by Impact supports six hours of professional development for district after-school educators on managing students’ — and their own — health needs. mental.

Impact on Education also provided funds to help Fairview High School host a student conference with sessions on sexual violence education and prevention, mental health, self-care, and leadership. Billings said she hopes other high schools will use the conference as a model to deliver similar sessions to students.

Contributors to Impact’s $800,000 mental health fund included Community Foundation Boulder County, Center for Disaster Philanthropy, AT&T, UnitedHealthcare, Google, Bender West Foundation, El Pomar Foundation, Ilse Nathan Foundation, and Boulder’s Housing and Human Services Department.

“The challenge now is, is that enough,” Billings said.