Nonprofits question mental health expansion in NYC schools – Bronx Times

Following greater than 4,000 NYC kids losing a parent to COVID-19 since its outset in 2020, town Division of Schooling (DOE ) employed 500 social staff this fall.

Due to this fact, each metropolis public college now has at the very least one full-time social employee or school-based mental health clinic in addition to different pre-existing helps like neighborhood college applications and assets throughout town, equivalent to NYC Health + Hospitals and ThriveNYC. In whole, greater than 6,000 social staff, steering counselors and college psychologists will present help to schools this fall, in addition to neighborhood primarily based assets.

Nadia Chait, director of coverage and advocacy at The Coalition for Behavioral Health, questions the DOE’s plan to fill metropolis schools with 500 “new” social staff. Picture courtesy Nadia Chait

Nevertheless, with a nationwide social worker shortage, Todd Karlin, chief program officer at Astor Companies for Kids and Households, and Nadia Chait, director of coverage and advocacy at The Coalition for Behavioral Health, had been shocked to study that the DOE was capable of finding 500 new ones. Whereas town claims the entire social staff are model new, each Karlin and Chait instructed the Bronx Times that town employed social staff from current nonprofit clinics in DOE schools.

“There aren’t 500 unemployed social workers waiting for these jobs,” Chait mentioned.

At the moment, nonprofit organizations run 243 school-based mental health clinics that serve youngsters and households. The Coalition recommends increasing these clinics to schools throughout town, which may very well be performed at little value to town as a result of these clinics are licensed by the state and may invoice Medicaid. By way of these clinics, psychiatrists and different practitioners can present a excessive degree of care to handle the wide selection of mental health wants of scholars.

“Bringing more social workers into schools doesn’t solve certain problems,” Karlin mentioned. “The question is where do the social workers come from?”

Based on Karlin, as an alternative of taking a look at what every college wants, the DOE is attempting to do patchwork and repair every thing directly. For instance, sure schools want a number of social staff who might help youngsters cope with trauma, Karlin and Chait mentioned. Because the nonprofits might have created clinics in extra schools that may have been reimbursed, Karlin isn’t certain why town selected the dearer route.

Karlin mentioned on paper hiring 500 new social staff sounded nice, however in actuality, merely wasn’t sensible as a result of they don’t exist.

“They’re taking away from some of the highest needs schools to support others,” he mentioned. “No one talked to the schools beforehand to see what their needs are. We know there are many schools now with vacancies.”

Chait echoed Karlin’s sentiments and mentioned that youngsters already handled quite a few points earlier than the pandemic and now will want mental health providers much more. However sure schools might require extra help than others and the DOE plan doesn’t handle that.

Chief Program Officer at Astor Companies for Kids and Households Todd Karlin doesn’t consider the DOE employed 500 new social staff this fall, as they’ve claimed. Picture courtesy Todd Karlin

“There’s no perfect solution,” she mentioned. “We would love to work with the city on increasing the pipeline (of social workers to schools).”

The truth is, Astor Companies despatched out a survey to nonprofits concerning social staff who left college clinics and found that many went to work for the DOE.

Of the 100 nonprofits that responded to the survey, at the very least half of their staff who left went to work for the DOE as a part of the mayor’s initiative, mentioned Yvette Bairan, chief government officer of Asor Companies for Kids and Households.

“For Astor, that number is at least 70%,” Bairan mentioned.

Nevertheless, in accordance with DOE Spokesman Nathan Styer, the DOE recruited a pool of greater than 1,000 candidates and labored with native schools and universities to search out candidates.

“This year we made a historic investment in the long-term mental health support of our young people,” Styer mentioned. “By hiring 500 caring adults for schools that previously did not have a school-based social worker, we are taking the important, and necessary steps to ensure our children are returning to safe, welcoming schools this fall.”

Attain Jason Cohen at [email protected] or (718) 260-4598. For extra protection, observe us on Twitter, Fb and Instagram @bronxtimes. 

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