Durbin Announces $14.4 Million In Federal Funding For Chicago Public Schools And Illinois State Board Of Education For Student Mental Health And Trauma-Informed Care

CHICAGO – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today visited Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. College Preparatory High School to unveil new federal funding totaling $14.4 million to Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to expand trauma-informed care and increase student mental health personnel in schools. This funding comes from the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act(BSCA), which was signed into law last year and is the most significant gun safety reform in nearly three decades. Today’s funding includes $7.2 million from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) through the Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education) program, $6 million from the Department of Education’s (ED’s) School-Based Mental Health Service grants, and $1.2 million from ED’s Mental Health Service Professional Demonstration grant. 

“Trauma is at the root of so much of the pain and conflict in our neighborhoods — fueling the cycle of violence,” said Durbin. “We can support, nurture, and help children cope with these experiences and thrive. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Actprovides historic investments in community violence intervention programs, school safety, mental health resources, and implementation of red flag laws. This law, and the more than $14 million in federal funding it provides, is a commitment to the young people of Chicago and their futures.”

“Like so many of us, young people across Chicago and Illinois are in need of additional mental health resources to help them deal with the aftermath of an unimaginable pandemic, several history-making events in recent years and heartbreaking violence,” said Duckworth. “Because of this, there’s an increased need for trauma-informed, community-based and equity-centered treatment and service. I’m proud that the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is helping provide them and their families with access to mental health support that they deserve.”

“Trauma among school children is one of the most pressing issues impacting youth in America,” said Davis. “I am pleased and delighted to work with Senator Durbin as we address this serious problem.  Today we celebrate over $14 million in federal funding to provide mental health and trauma-informed care services to help children in Chicago and across Illinois heal and flourish.”

“As a District, we recognize that our students' mental health has an immense impact on both their academic success and social-emotional growth,” said CPS CEO Pedro Martinez.“This funding will enable CPS to build on its investments in trauma-informed mental health supports and services that meet students where they are and empower them to reach their full potential.”

Durbin, Davis, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and U.S. Representative Mike Gallagher (R-WI)established a new “Trauma Support in Schools” grant program at SAMHSA by including provisions from their Trauma-Informed Care for Children and Families Act within the SUPPORT Act that passed Congress in 2018. Durbin and Davis also led efforts to appropriate funds for this grant program, including $12 million in the Fiscal Year 2023 Omnibus appropriations bill and $28 million in theBipartisan Safer Communities Act

Building upon that work, Durbin and Capito have introduced the bipartisanRISE from Trauma Act, which would enhance the trauma-informed workforce and expand community, school, and hospital-based services to identify and support children who experience trauma. 

Exposure to ACEs—such as witnessing a shooting—puts children in “fight or flight mode”, which can harm healthy brain development and increases the risk of chronic diseases, suicide, opioid misuse, and academic delays. This can fuel the cycle of violence as trauma harms the ability to regulate emotions, process fear, and form healthy relationships.