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US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona touts $2.5 million for CT community schooling initiative

Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona with students Joshua Santiago and Melinda Martinez at Fair Haven School in New Haven. Cardona spoke along with other local and state officials over a $2.5 million dollar federal grant to support community school initiatives which will last over a five year period in New Haven, Connecticut January 29, 2024.
Eddy Martinez
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Connecticut Public
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona with students Joshua Santiago and Melinda Martinez at Fair Haven School in New Haven. Cardona spoke along with other local and state officials over a $2.5 million dollar federal grant to support community school initiatives which will last over a five year period in New Haven, Connecticut January 29, 2024.

New Haven’s community schools initiative is getting $2.5 million in federal grant money to give underserved students better access to mental health support and other services.

The money will be used for wrap-around services at city schools, according to U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.

“We know students are six times more likely to access mental health support in the schoolhouse,” Cardona said.

Cardona spoke Monday along with students and federal and local officials at Fair Haven School. The grant will be awarded over a five year period. It was awarded to the Clifford Beers Community Care Center, which offers mental health services to minors.

The funds will help address a national mental health crisis among young children, Cardona said. The initiative will also consult with parents, according to New Haven Public Schools Superintendent Madeline Negron.

The grant is part of a holistic approach to education, which Democratic U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said is crucial.

“There have to be emotional, mental, health, and other services involved as well. And that's what Clifford Beers does so well,” Blumenthal said.

The grant comes from the Full Service Community Schools Program, or FSCS. Clifford Beers Community Care Center is one of 30 recipients of the grants nationwide.

Nyrmin Vidro is the bilingual lead care coordinator for Clifford Beers. Vidro said her organization helps connect families with resources for their children.

“The engagement of the care coordinators with families builds trust and a support team — or journey — that helps families be heard, understood and not feel alone,” Vidro said.

But before anything is done, Negron said the city needs to figure out who and what need the most help.

“The first phase in this work is the needs assessment that is going to be happening in the next six months,” Negron said.

The help, according to Cardona, will address an urgent mental health crisis.

New Haven Public Schools’ students are also facing other challenges. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 28.2% of the student body’s families live below the poverty level and more than 42% are on food assistance.

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