Supporting the mental health and wellness of students is critical to facilitating their academic achievement. Meeting the mental health needs of students and providing them with the necessary tools through social and emotional learning helps them lead a balanced and healthy life, through their educational years and beyond.
New Jersey received $20 million in funding under Title IV, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) to provide students with safer and healthier learning environments. The New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) must award these funds competitively to high-need local educational agencies (LEAs). On November 23, 2022, NJDOE released a request for public comment on the Department's definition of "high need" and on the design of the Department's Notice of Grant Opportunity subgrant process. The public comment period ended on December 7, 2022.
On June 25, 2022, President Biden signed into law the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA). As part of this legislation, Congress authorized $1 billion in formula funding under Title IV, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) to State Educational Agencies (SEAs) to provide students with safer and healthier learning environments through the Safer Communities Grant (SCG) program. New Jersey received an allocation of funding that totaled $20,905,551, of which, 99% ($20,696,495) will be distributed to high-need local educational agencies (LEAs) through a competitive grant process.
NJDOE determined whether an LEA is “high-need” and eligible to apply for SCG funds based on its poverty rate. LEAs meeting at least one of the following poverty measures are eligible to apply:
- A threshold poverty level of 20% based on the LEA’s Free and Reduced-Price Lunch (FRPL) enrollment; or
- A score above the average on the community poverty index developed by the NJDOE for each LEA using a series of economic indicators specific to the geographic location of each school district from the U.S. Census.
Grant Program Information
The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act – Stronger Connections Grant Program Notice of Grant Opportunity: Download NGO
Application can be accessed via EWEG: Access EWEG
Bipartisan Safer Communities Act – Stronger Connections Grant: Program Information
Additional information about the Stronger Connections Grant Program can be found here: Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. Stronger Connections Grant Program - Frequently Asked Questions
The New Jersey Department of Education has submitted an application for the federal Mental Health Service Professional Demonstration Grant program, which provides competitive grants to support and demonstrate innovative partnerships to train school-based mental health services providers for employment in schools. The goal of this program is to increase the number and diversity of high-quality, trained providers to address current shortages of mental health services professionals in schools served by high-need local educational agencies (LEAs). The Department has applied for up to $1.2 million to support the establishment of a pipeline to diversify their programs and train and place school psychology graduate students in high need LEAs. This information will be updated upon final grant award determinations from the United States Department of Education.
The School-Based Mental Health (SBMH) Services program is designed to increase mental health support for children and youth in our schools through additional recruitment and retention of school-based mental health professionals. The Department applied for up to $3 million in federal grant funding (exclusive of state matching funds) in early November 2022. Successful applicants will be notified by December 31, 2022, and the five-year grant window begins January 1, 2023. In addition to support from Governor Murphy and state agencies including the Department of Children and Families, Human Services, Health, and the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, these grants received support from the New Jersey State Board of Education President, state and federal legislators, universities, educator associations, and mental health practitioner associations.
This information will be updated upon final grant award determinations from the United States Department of Education.
The fiscal year (FY) 2023 budget included a $55 million multiagency American Rescue Plan (ARP) investment in youth mental health, including programs from the Departments of Education, Children and Families, Human Services, and the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education. Programs will launch throughout the fiscal year including the following Department of Education programs:
The New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF) will utilize $3.6 million to expand its current pilot partnership with the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE), Developing Resiliency with Engaging Approaches to Maximize Success (DREAMS). DREAMS is a train-the-trainer model providing training in the Nurtured Heart Approach, a transformative trauma-formed and healing-centered method of modifying potentially destructive youth behaviors so that they can lead to positive outcomes instead.
The Department of Human Services (DHS) and NJDOE will provide a $2.7 million funding opportunity for Teen Mental Health First Aid (tMHFA) training for high schools. The tMHFA program aims to build mental health awareness to better identify early signs of mental health needs and equip participants with the tools they need to effectively support those around them. These trainings will be provided to educators and staff, who would in turn train peer staff and students in tMHFA. This will allow for the continuation of this training in perpetuity, with impacts lasting long after ARP funding ends. DHS will launch a similar initiative at the higher education level, in partnership with the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education.
The NJDOE will utilize $3.3 million to strengthen educator and staff training for supporting youth mental health and education. The efforts will include interactive training, a statewide conference, and public awareness campaign on youth suicide prevention ; a statewide social and emotional Learning (SEL) professional development series; and technical assistance for districts to implement the New Jersey Comprehensive School-Based Mental Health Resource Guide – a product of the Mental Health Working Group created by Governor Murphy in February 2020.