Federal grant increases number of mental health professionals at Waco schools
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Waco ISD and Transformation Waco schools will see more licensed mental health professionals inside campuses in the coming years.
It’s all because of a more than $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education. However, all of these licensed mental health professionals will be Baylor graduate students.
”We really try to work on honing on what we can bring to the campus, which is working with kids,” Carrie Arroyo, senior lecturer with the Baylor School of Social Work, said.
The graduate students will work with K-12 students at Alta Vista Elementary School, Indian Spring Middle School, G.W. Carver Middle School and Waco High School.
”We simply want to tap into what really is a pre-existing practice for Waco by honoring those who know and love Waco best,” Dr. Rachelle Warren, Waco ISD Assistant Superintendent for Student Services & Support, said.
Six Baylor School of Social Work graduate students already work at the Waco ISD and Transformation Waco Schools under this program called the “Partnering for Heart of Texas Mental Health” program. But under this new federal grant that will gradually increase to 10 students by the 2026-2027 school year.
”Our training focuses on how to work within the public education system plus how to work well with administrators, teachers and parents,” Arroyo said.
These Baylor interns will walk students through conflict resolution, a lack of motivation and how to better control their emotions.
”When there’s so much going on emotionally, it makes it hard to be physically present in the classroom,” Arroyo said.
It’s all about working with the K-12 students to help get them back on track to succeed in school.
”Allowing our social workers to exercise their expertise in mental health and interpersonal skills simply enhances the student’s ability to learn in this moment and contribute as they move beyond our schools,” Dr. Warren said.
The federal grant will also fund another program where Spanish-speakers will help guide Waco ISD students through their mental health struggles. The goal is for the program to be up and running by the 2024-2025 school year.
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