Durbin, Duckworth, Davis Announce $7.2 Million for Illinois State Board of Education And Chicago Public Schools For Student Mental Health Services

WASHINGTON  U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and U.S. Representative Danny Davis (D-IL-07) today announced the awarding of two federal grants totaling $7.2 million to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and Chicago Public Schools for increasing student mental health and trauma-informed care services in schools across the state. These grants were awarded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) through the Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education) program.

“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, children across America faced a serious mental health crisis,” said Durbin. “The trauma that too many students face—including from witnessing violence in our communities—can harm their health and academic success. Expanding mental health services in schools across Illinois will help students cope with their emotional scars and empower them to thrive. I’ve made it a priority to increase funding for these programs to ensure children in need have access to resources that can help put them on a path toward success.” 

“Like so many of us, young people across our state and country are in need of additional mental health resources to help them deal with the aftermath of an unimaginable pandemic and a series of historical events while also navigating their daily lives,” 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 theBipartisan Safer Communities Act will help 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. “As a public policy, we say something needs to be done about it. These grants will go a long way to provide mental health services and trauma-informed care services in schools.”

Project AWARE provides competitive grants designed to identify children and youth in need of mental health services, increase access to mental health treatment, and promote mental health literacy among teachers and school personnel. ISBE and CPS will use these funds to train teachers and other school personnel on mental health awareness and how to connect school-aged youth to needed services. Other activities may include school-based mental health and wellness programs and the implementation of evidence-based mental health interventions. 

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which Durbin, Duckworth, and Davis supported, provides more than $3 billion in appropriations for school and community-based mental health and trauma-informed care. Durbin secured an additional $250 million in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act for community-based violence initiatives, including improving mental health access. 

Last July, Durbin sent a letter to Illinois education leaders highlighting the federal funds secured through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act for mental health services.