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Grants Allow Carmel Schools to Provide Emotional Support

Carmel Central School District students will benefit from two separate grants that will provide emotional support services at George Fischer Middle School and Carmel High School. 

The district has been awarded a $227,432 state Mental Health RECOVS grant for the middle school, and a separate $25,000 state grant to a local community services agency will fund a satellite mental health clinic at the high school. 

The state RECOVS grant, which Gov. Kathy Hochul awarded at the end of January, will be used to fund social and emotional learning programs and a full-time social worker at GFMS through the 2024-25 school year, according to Interim Superintendent Joseph McGrath.

“We realized that now, more than ever, students need support,” he said. “We wanted to take a holistic approach that would meet students at their level of need. I am grateful to the governor for offering this line of support to our students.”

While the governor announced RECOVS grants totaling $100 million for 50 school districts and BOCES, Carmel is the only district in Putnam County to receive one.

“New York is making historic investments to ensure all our students are on the path toward success,” said Hochul. “This funding will help our teachers and school staff pinpoint where students have fallen behind and provide students with the crucial resources needed to support their mental health, especially after the pandemic.”

At CHS, a satellite mental health clinic will be run by the Student Assistance Services Corporation, in collaboration with the Prevention Council of Putnam. Bringing the services of a clinician/therapist into the building fits a “community school” model where the school partners with a local agency to offer the range of supports that meet the needs of students and families, explained CHS Principal Brian Piazza.

“Over the past several years we have seen an increased need for mental health counseling services for our students due to a rise in depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns amongst young people in our community,” he said. “This grant will allow us to ensure our students and families in need of services can be referred to a mental health professional in our community for support, with the bonus of that individual working out of a space at Carmel High School.”

Having the services in-house will allow for easier access to these services, in a timely manner, according to Piazza. Students will be primarily referred by the school’s pupil personnel support team (psychologists, social workers, school counselors) and required to have parental consent and involvement for services, which will be billed to the student’s insurance or Medicaid.

“Research shows that students are six times more likely to get mental health services if they are provided within the school district,” explained McGrath. “So we have strategically sought and received outside funding to further support the mental wellness of our students.”


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