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  • NY’s budget has $100M for academic and mental health programs. Schools still don’t have the money.

    Feb 27, 2023

    02.24.2023 | Chalkbeat NY | “It is very disappointing that the money that was allocated for desperately needed services by children and adolescents is not getting to them,” said Dawn Yuster, director of the School Justice Project at Advocates for Children. “There is a lot of trauma, anxiety, depression, suicidal ideations that we continue to hear about from family after family.” 

    As calls grew nationally to address a youth mental health crisis fueled by widespread loss and grief from the pandemic, Hochul proposed last January to add $100 million to the state budget for this fiscal year, which runs from April 1, 2022 to this upcoming March 31, and touted the money in a press release when it made it into the final budget. 

    At the time of Hochul’s proposal, students had returned to campuses full time for the first time since the pandemic. Many educators had reported students struggling with behavioral, social, and mental health issues. Social workers and counselors reported being inundated with student referrals.

    In New York City, one in every 200 children has lost a caregiver to COVID. More than 40% of students nationally reported feeling persistent sadness in 2021, compared to about 25% ten years before that, according to a recently released survey. 

    It’s possible many districts are still busy spending billions of dollars in federal coronavirus relief aid, potentially making this grant less of a need at the moment, advocates said. 

    Still, districts likely would have jumped at the money had it been available, Lowry said. Those matching funds could have helped districts launch or expand initiatives that they’d already been working on, such as New York City’s pilot effort to pour more mental health resources into 50 high-need schools in order to minimize the use of police intervention, Yuster said. 

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