As part of its $4.1 million commitment to expand school-based mental health in the District of Columbia — a commitment that aims to add 2,000 wrap-around support seats in Wards 7 and 8 by 2020 to increase students’ social-emotional well-being — the Bainum Family Foundation today announced the four partner schools that will participate in its new Community of Practice.
These elementary and middle schools, all located in and/or serving Wards 7 and 8, will receive three years of training and technical assistance to strengthen universal prevention efforts, integrate academic and social-emotional data for decision-making, and coordinate resources between the school, families and community as each school implements the best practices that fit its unique needs and evaluates outcomes. The work is being conducted by the Foundation in partnership with the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools (CHHCS), part of the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.
“We appreciate the enthusiasm and record of innovation these schools bring to this initiative and our broader efforts to advance the field of school-based mental health,” says Nisha Sachdev, DrPH, PsyD, the Foundation’s Senior Director of Evaluation.
According to Olga Acosta Price, PhD, Director of CHHCS and founding director of the District’s long-standing School Mental Health Program, children and families in low-income D.C. neighborhoods have an elevated need for mental health services due to the stress factors that result from living in poverty, coupled with low availability of resources (clinics and practitioners) in their communities. Further, available services in D.C. focus largely on treatment for high-need children rather than early identification and prevention for all children.
“We will help the partner schools adopt the most effective practices known in the field, build their capacity to serve more children and families, and increase the likelihood that these school-based mental health supports will be sustained over time,” says Acosta Price, who also is part of the District’s current working group on school-based mental health.
“DC Prep is deeply committed to success for every student. We have been focused on building and refining our social supports for students and have already benefited from work with the Bainum Family Foundation as they have developed this critical initiative,” says Emily Lawson, Founder and CEO of DC Prep. “We know that school-based mental health services, grounded in current research, can have an outsized impact on children’s abilities to develop healthy social-emotional coping strategies and to build life-long resilience. We are honored to participate in the Foundation’s Community of Practice and excited about working with colleagues to identify the practices that lead to positive outcomes for our students.”
According to Barbara Bainum, Chair of the Board, CEO and President of the Foundation, the school-based mental health initiative is characteristic of the way the Foundation works to improve the quality and availability of resources for children living in poverty.
“In order for children to thrive and to succeed in both school and life, it’s critical to address their social and emotional needs along with their cognitive and physical development,” she says. “That’s why school-based mental health is a key element of our Wrap-Around Support strategy. The Community of Practice is a crucial demonstration project that will help us understand the most effective ways to deliver these services through schools, and that’s information we will share with educators and the mental health field to benefit other children, families and schools.”
The Bainum Family Foundation combines proven expertise with a passion for supporting the whole child by providing integrated services to help them thrive. Our circle of collaboration includes investments and support in early learning, wrap-around services and knowledge building. Founded in 1968 by Stewart and Jane Bainum, the Foundation has helped underserved children exit poverty through high-quality educational programs and services for 50 years. For more information, visit bainumfdn.org.