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$95 million is dedicated to mental health initiatives and $95 million to physical security enhancements
On August 1, PCCD announced $190M of the School Safety and Security Program funding to support School Mental Health & Safety and Security Grants per Act 55 for the 2022-2023 school year; the primary purpose of which is to provide grants to eligible school entities to support both mental health initiatives and physical school security enhancements. The objective of the grant program is to ensure that eligible school entities meet ‘Tier 1’ of the Baseline Criteria Guidance for Physical Security, Behavioral Health and School Climate developed by the School Safety and Security Committee (SSSC). Applications must be submitted electronically through PCCD’s Egrants system no later than 11:59 PM on Wednesday, August 31, 2022.
Eligible Activities for the $95M School Mental Health Grants
Schools are eligible to utilize their mental health grant to meet the Tier 1 Baseline Criteria for behavioral health and school climate established by the SSSC. Key activities to meet these requirements may include:
- Threat Assessment: School has developed and enacted a threat assessment plan.
- Social Emotional Learning (SEL): Policies and strategies in place to address incidents of bullying, SEL materials to include social media; and prevention education at all school levels i.e., character education, resiliency building, equity, coincide with school climate work.
Once, or if, a school entity has met the Tier 1 Baseline Criteria for behavioral health and school climate, they shall be eligible to use funding to support activities such as:
- Risk assessment, safety-related, violence prevention curricula, including dating violence curricula, restorative justice strategies, reduction of problem behaviors, self-care and suicide awareness and prevention curricula.
- Development and implementation of research-based violence prevention programs that address risk factors to reduce incidents of problem behaviors among students, including, but not limited to, mental health early intervention, self-care, bullying and suicide awareness and prevention.
- Counseling services for students, including costs associated with the training and compensation of mental health staff or expanding contracts with mental health providers that provide support to students in a school setting.
Eligible Activities for the $95M School Physical Security Grants
A school entity shall be eligible to utilize their physical school safety and security grant to meet the Tier 1 Baseline Criteria for physical security established by the SSSC. Key activities to meet these requirements may include:
- Visitor Management: Visitor buzz-in entry system; Written log of visitors and packages; Policies and procedures for handling visitors and packages; Training for front desk/secretarial staff.
- Reunification: School entity develops a reunification plan.
- Emergency Operation Plans (EOPs)/All Hazards Plans: School entity plan development to include MOU and all-hazards plans with area law enforcement and other first responders/emergency response stakeholders.
Once, or if, a school entity has met the Tier 1 Baseline Criteria for physical security, they shall be eligible to use funding to support activities such as:
- Security planning and purchase of security-related technology, which may include special emergency communications equipment.
- Institution of student, staff, and visitor identification systems, including criminal background check software.
- Thorough, districtwide school safety, violence prevention, emergency preparedness and all-hazards plans, including revisions or updates to such plans and conducting emergency preparedness drills and related activities with local emergency responders.
Learn Best Practices to Keep PA Schools Safe and Compliant with Grant Requirements
From school safety drills to supporting the mental wellbeing of individual students, the following are some best practices to keep your staff and students safe and help you meet the requirements outlined in the PA School Mental Health & Safety and Security Grants announcement:
- SCHOOL SAFETY DRILL BEST PRACTICES: A drill management system is key to analyzing drill performance, maintaining compliance, and creating muscle memory for a real-life emergency.
- SCHOOL EMERGENCY RESPONSE BEST PRACTICES: Successful response—and the number of lives saved—depends on how fast first responders receive accurate, specific information about the emergency.
- BEST PRACTICES FOR REUNIFYING STUDENTS AND RECOVERING: Alongside how to respond to an incident, you also need a robust plan for every component of reunifying students with their guardian.
- BEST PRACTICES FOR SUPPORTING STUDENT WELLBEING: Learn Strategies to Support Students in Distress and Reduce Violence in Schools.
Guide to K-12 Student Wellbeing
Strategies to Recognize, Document, and Support Students in Distress.