DA and Council report on the results of the Healthy Children, Health Schools initiative.

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Released: April 7, 2022

Media, PA – At the County Council meeting on Wednesday, April 6, 2022, District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer, along with Council Chair Dr. Monica Taylor, Director of Human Services Sandra Garrison and representatives from Bloom Consulting shared the results of their more than year-long effort to survey the state of mental, behavioral and substance abuse treatment services available to school-age children in Delaware County.

The project — known as the Healthy Kids, Healthy Schools Initiative — had its origins in a meeting in the summer of 2020 between the district attorney, council members and educators from across the county. The educators shared their concerns about the rise of untreated and undertreated mental and behavioral health issues in their student population and expressed concern that these issues are affecting the safety of both their students and staff.

After the first meeting, District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer began assembling a team to explore ways the district could address this issue in a collaborative, comprehensive, and equitable manner. Bloom Consulting was hired by Safe Schools with state grants to help, and they have been working with stakeholders from across Delaware County for more than a year. Safe Schools funding has historically been distributed to Delaware County schools to improve the physical security of their buildings through the purchase of locks, cameras and similar items. However, the district attorney acknowledged the concerns of the educators and applied for and received permission from the state to use a portion of the funds to investigate the state of the county’s mental, behavioral and substance abuse treatment services for schoolchildren.

In May 2021, Bloom presented the results of their work in a research report. The study included interviews with more than 40 stakeholders, including educators, mental health providers, community organizations and human resource workers, and the results of 8,711 survey respondents. Upon completion of the research report, Bloom began creating a strategic plan to improve service delivery in Delaware County.

Released on April 6, 2022, the Strategic Plan is the result of countless hours of conversations and collaboration with multiple stakeholders.

As a first step in the work outlined in the Strategic Plan, the county has committed to creating a position within the Department of Human Services – using currently available funds – that will serve as the coordinator for the ongoing work of this initiative. The position is responsible for facilitating efforts to continuously review and improve the delivery of services to the children in our community and serves as the point of contact for county educators regarding those services.

“Delaware County is committed to continuing to be a leader in improving the mental and behavioral health services offered to young residents in our county,” said Council Chairperson Dr. Monica Taylor. “By assigning a specific individual with the responsibility of providing a clear line of communication between our schools and our providers, we hope to better support our school communities and our families. The plan unveiled tonight will support the county in its commitment to do what it can to address the ongoing and pervasive mental health crises our children and youth are facing.”

Reflecting on the work of this initiative, District Attorney Stollsteimer stated, “It has been deeply gratifying to witness the dedication of those involved in this project to improving mental and behavioral health services for our children. As the work progresses, it has been both disturbing and reassuring to learn of the most recent assessments from both the US Surgeon General and the Centers for Disease Control, both of which identified the same problem we did in the summer of 2020 – we have a growing mental health crisis, with which our children and young people are confronted with. Although this crisis predates the pandemic, it has been catastrophically aggravated by the stress of the past two years. I would like to commend the County Council for their dedication to this work and Bloom Consulting for their dedication and professionalism. I also want to extend my deep and abiding gratitude to all of the administrators, teachers, parents, and community members who took the time to help us with this project. I look forward to continuing and expanding this work.”

The strategic plan can be found here: https://delcopa.gov/pdf/DHKHSI.StrategicPlan.FINAL.2022.03.15.pdf

The research report can be found here: https://delcopa.gov/pdf/DHKHSI.ResearchReport.FINAL.2021.06.18.pdf

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