Next school year the Duval County School District could employ double the current number of therapists. That’s part of its plan to strengthen mental health services for students under the state’s school safety bill passed after February’s Parkland shooting.
The law requires services follow students from assessment and diagnosis through intervention and treatment to recovery.
This comes at a time where Duval students are self reporting higher rates of attempting suicide and depression than other children in the state.
The district plans to increase the number of full service schools having access to therapists from 75 schools to 106, cutting the therapist to school ratio from 1:5 to 1:2.
In addition, the district wants to double the number of “full service plus” schools to 24. In plus schools therapists are a permanent fixture on campus with their own offices, in contrast to the full service model, where therapists travel to students needing assistance.
During a May interview, district staff said 20 percent more students referred for services actually get them in plus schools.
The tentative $8.2 million plan would be comprised of nearly a million from the district’s budget, $2.6 million from the state, $700,00 in philanthropic donations,, more than $3 million from the city though the Kids Hope Alliance department and $2.6 million though Kids Hope Alliance medicaid dollars.
The district won’t know until October, the beginning of the city’s fiscal year, exactly how much it will get through the Kids Hope Alliance, but district staff said it has a Plan B with higher therapist to school ratios if needed.
During the meeting board member Warren Jones said students who are exposed to violent crimes including shootings, should be sought out and given services.