SIERRA VISTA — A $1.2 million mental health grant Dr. Jacqui Clay plugged away at almost on a daily basis for two long years is close to taking root.
Approved by the Arizona Department of Education in September, the two-year grant that will benefit every public and charter school in the county with professional support in crisis management — as well as behavioral issues — is a big win for students, parents and school employees.
Clay, Cochise County’s school superintendent, knew it would be.
So did the legislators and state officials after Clay circled the wagons long enough to get their attention until her message echoed down the pipeline to Phoenix.
Clay’s vision for Cochise County to help students in crisis helped win them over.
“The grant people were excited about was what we as a district and a community can accomplish with this,” she said. “This is a huge, collaborative piece for Cochise County. We couldn’t be happier.”
The grant from America’s Rescue Plan approved by Congress last year will fund the Cochise Educational Service Agency County Mental Health Consortium.
With no current system for addressing mental health issues if a crisis occurs in the district’s school, the consortium will provide mental health training to school employees and others while expanding services schools offer for special needs students.
“There is no (current) viable structure where preventive measures, professional development and community training is offered,” Clay said. “We’ll have measures in place when a crisis of any kind at one of our schools occurs and be able to help them immediately with professional support.”
A consortium director will be hired, who will create relationships with the schools and the mental health community.
“He or she will be the glue for all the mental health agencies, secure resources, and get a handle on what each schools’ needs are,” she said.
Eight positions will be filled that include a psychologist, physical, speech and occupational therapists and their four assistants.
The consortium will partner with the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office for crisis response services; it will help provide professional development for suicide prevention and trauma response as well as peer support and training for students and parents.
“It brings this community together to serve our kids by logistically filling the gaps,” said Clay.
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