Another 24,000 students in 63 schools across Nova Scotia including some in Pictou County will have greater access to services, after-school programs and more mental health clinicians due to an expansion of the SchoolsPlus program.
Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Zach Churchill announced the expansion on Tuesday at Brookside Junior High in Hatchet Lake, Halifax Regional Municipality.
“SchoolsPlus is for the whole school – meaning all students, extended families, and community partners,” said Churchill in a press release.
In the 2017-18 budget, government invested $1.8 million to expand existing hub sites and to create three new ones including one at Northumberland Regional High School in Alma.
“The school setting offers clinicians an opportunity for early identification and intervention when students are experiencing mental health and addictions difficulties and disorders,” said Jennifer McCarron, IWK clinical manager, mental health and addictions. “Overall, partnerships such as this strengthen supports for students, reduce barriers and improve access to needed care.”
The expansion throughout the province means an additional three facilitators/social workers, 11 new community outreach workers and eight new mental health clinicians are being hired to support the expansion of SchoolsPlus during the 2017-18 school year.
Services will include providing information and resources for parents, supporting students to better engage in school, working with partners to create wraparound supports to help students overcome barriers, and connecting with mental health services in the community. SchoolsPlus is also about having fun, learning new skills and building networks.
SchoolsPlus now has 31 hub sites serving 273 schools with a total enrolment of 87,000, about 73 per cent of Nova Scotia’s students. The government has committed to making SchoolsPlus accessible to all students by 2019-20.