Strengthening School Mental Health Supports

The Foundation is researching and implementing sustainable best practices to build the capacity for schools to implement quality school mental health services and supports. To initiate this work, in 2016, we partnered with the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools (CHHCS) at George Washington University — a national resource and technical assistance center that advances effective school health programs, policies and practices — to conduct a systematic needs assessment of services and supports provided through and with schools in the District of Columbia. Findings revealed the need for increased universal prevention strategies, integration of academic and social emotional learning data, and coordination within schools, families and community resources

With this groundwork laid and a subsequent $4.1 million commitment made by the Foundation, we:

  • Implemented a technical assistance and Community of Practice strategy in 2018 with three partner schools: DC Prep, DC Scholars and Eagle Academy. In partnership with CHHCS, the Foundation will provide these schools with training and technical assistance through 2021 to strengthen universal prevention efforts, integrate academic and social-emotional data for decision-making, and coordinate resources between the school, families and community as each school implements the best practices that fit its unique needs and evaluates outcomes.
  • Convened and are leading a Districtwide Stakeholder Learning Community of local school mental health stakeholders (practitioners, researchers, policy makers and school administrators) to leverage existing expertise and coordinate and share resources.
  • Partnered with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the National Center for School Mental Health at the University of Maryland, and CHHCS to convene a series of meetings with more than 75 school mental health leaders from across the country to discuss innovative strategies for implementing high-quality school mental health supports at the local, state and federal level. Through this collaborative effort, we developed a national report that, for the first time, captures best practices and recommendations for widescale adoption of comprehensive school mental health systems. The report, released in September 2019, is being widely disseminate to a variety of stakeholders to build knowledge and encourage action in the field.
  • Convened more than a dozen D.C.-area funders who support work in child mental health to share funding priorities, identify gaps in funding and determine how to most effectively work together.