JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Clay County School District will receive nearly $1 million as part of the state's effort to expand access to mental health care in schools statewide.
The district's share is just a fraction of the $69 million in funding budgeted for districts with the largest district, Miami-Dade, receiving close to $8 million and the smallest, Jefferson, getting $100,000.
That funding was awarded based on need after each district submitted a proposal to the state detailing how that money would be spent this school year.
Clay County Schools Superintendent Addison Davis said at least eight new employees were hired out of a desire to address the emotional and mental health of students.
"What we're going to do is bring these resources to our kids. We're going to expand the resources for mental health, with mental health counselors, more psychologists and social workers," said Davis.
"We’re also hiring a coordinator of nursing, a coordinator of mental health and a coordinator a student engagement," he added.
The district is also working on an online platform for students, parents and faculty to submit tips and concerns anonymous, a first-of-its-kind resource for the state of Florida.
In addition, the district is launching a bullying hotline -- 904-336-6799 -- for students to voice their concerns. Davis said he wants students to sound the alarm if something is wrong.
He said the hotline will provide a helpful resource to individuals facing bullying or other crises, adding that it will help inform staff about problems that need addressing.
Educators and staff are also going through training to identify and step in to help students who might be at risk, whether it's a result of anxiety, depression, substance abuse, or something else entirely.
"It really prepares us to have a greater awareness for students that have the signals for mental health crisis," said Davis.
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