$2 million grant to address mental health, safety in Oklahoma schools

Oklahoma State Department of Education

The Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) has received a nearly $2 million grant to implement a statewide STOP School Violence program, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister announced today.

The grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice, is designed to improve mental health outcomes for Oklahoma children and youth through prevention and intervention services. With nearly 30% of Oklahoma students having experienced two or more Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), Oklahoma has the highest rate of childhood trauma in the nation. The federal grant will fund OSDE’s initiative, READY4Life, which stands for Relationships, Education, Advancement and Development for Youth for Life.

“READY4Life will assist school districts in creating mental health resources and support plans that reflect the specific needs of educators, students, families and communities,” Hofmeister said. “Educators will be prepared to spot the behavioral and emotional signs that indicate a child is in need of additional mental health supports and what actions they should take to support Oklahoma’s students.”

The initiative will address how school and community resources can create safe environments and manage responses to acute threats and incidents of violence. Mental health intervention teams in schools will receive training on behavioral threat violence strategies and the neuro-sequential model of therapeutics. Families will be included in the initiative as well. Best practices for social-emotional learning will be embedded within a comprehensive school-based mental health framework, which will be available through an application created specifically for Oklahoma students and families.