SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today hosted a virtual press conference to highlight new grant opportunities available for aspiring mental health clinicians to support California students. Thurmond also announced a call to service for graduates to become mental health providers in California schools and will use his office to raise awareness about opportunities, partnering with others to lead a statewide recruitment effort.
The mental health impacts of the pandemic have created a public health crisis for youth—one that has left students more prone to anxiety, self-esteem challenges, and even suicide. Across the globe, parents and schools wrestle with how to help children catch up in school and deal with the trauma caused by the global pandemic.
“We now have the funding, and must recruit mental health clinicians, especially in rural areas and in communities of color, and we will be doing marketing and outreach to make sure that everyone knows these resources are available,” said Superintendent Thurmond.
“This is an important moment. Our students deserve and need to have more support, and we’re grateful to have resources that we can use to help them. We recognize that it will take time to build out many of these wraparound services so our students can heal, recover, and thrive, and that’s why it’s important to embark on this work immediately.”
Building off of legislation that he wrote and sponsored, Senate Bill (SB) 1229 (State Senator Mike McGuire, D-North Coast), Thurmond worked closely with Governor Gavin Newsom and the California State Legislature to ensure that the 2022–23 state budget includes $184 million for teacher and school counselor residency programs and expands an existing $350 million residency program to school counselors. It also expands the current Golden State Teacher Grant Program to graduate students pursuing degrees to become mental health clinicians who serve California students, allowing them to receive grants up to $20,000.
“I thank the Governor’s Office for working with us to incorporate the bill into the budget through existing programs so that there is no delay in implementation,” said Thurmond. “I would also like to thank the California Alliance of Child and Family Services for their help in initiating and writing the language that eventually became SB 1229 and their expertise and assistance in highlighting this issue.”
Thurmond is using his office to promote the grant opportunities for aspiring clinicians—including outreach to candidates of color seeking to become mental health clinicians. The CDE will partner with the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) and the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing to help launch an online application and website and assist in outreach. Those who would like more information can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Superintendent Thurmond’s effort to recruit 10,000 clinicians is part of a larger plan to address workforce challenges in the education sector. It is also a centerpiece of his effort to help students heal from the trauma of the pandemic, recover academically, and thrive as they prepare for the future. Thurmond has simultaneously appointed a workgroup on addressing education sector workforce shortages, which is working to address compensation, training, and recruitment strategies to help offset education staffing shortages in a state that serves nearly 6 million students.