The Manitoba government is investing an additional $1.6 million over three years to expand the Community Schools program and provide increased supports for mental health and addictions resources for at-risk children and youth and their families, Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced today.
“The Community Schools program creates school hubs that support the development of strong ties between schools, parents, family members, service providers and the community to ensure early intervention for children at risk,” said Goertzen. “Today’s announcement supports our whole-of-government approach to increase mental health and addictions resources with the goal of building healthier and stronger communities. This investment will better support at-risk families and students, particularly Indigenous and newcomer families.”
The program currently receives $2.29 million in funding and includes 31 northern, rural and urban schools serving approximately 8,700 students. The new $1.6 million investment will add five schools from across the province to the program, as well as expand the scope of programming currently offered for 14 kindergarten to Grade 6 schools already taking part, helping to extend the benefits of resources and services to more than 10,000 children, the minister noted.
The new schools joining the program will be ready to roll out by January 2020. Those five new schools are:
• Victor Mager School, Louis Riel School Division, (kindergarten to Grade 8, urban);
• Ruth Hooker School, Lord Selkirk School Division (kindergarten to Grade 6, rural);
• Dalhousie School, Pembina Trails School Division (kindergarten to Grade 6, urban);
• George Fitton School, Brandon School Division (kindergarten to Grade 8, urban); and
• Scott Bateman Middle School, Kelsey School Division (Grades 6 to 8, northern).
“The Dalhousie School community is a resilient one. Our staff have been working hard at supporting students who may be facing challenging circumstances,” said Ted Fransen, superintendent, Pembina Trails School Division. “Today’s announcement is a generous contribution from the Province of Manitoba and will make a real difference for Pembina Trails families. Together we will work to improve wellness for all.”
The Community Schools program supports the capacity of schools as hubs in communities. Schools that receive program funding are required by legislation to assign an employee of the division or district to act as a community liaison, community connector or community support worker.
These community connectors bring together school and community services and resources to help at-risk students, which leads to better outcomes for students, families and surrounding neighbourhoods. This helps students arrive at school ready to learn and take full advantage of educational opportunities.
Schools taking part in the program offer a number of resources and services including breakfast and lunch programs, early childhood literacy programming, parenting information and programs, before-school, evening, weekend and summer programs, mentoring and youth development programs, and other services such as First Aid/CPR training, cultural awareness activities and crime prevention.
“We know that family and student health, nutrition, stable housing and a student’s ability to attend school on time and regularly have an effect on a student’s ability to concentrate, learn and establish positive relationships with those around them,” said Goertzen. “By adding additional supports for mental health and addictions resources to the work already underway, we can begin to have a positive impact on the lives of Manitobans, sooner.”
The minister noted the funding builds on other recently announced investments in mental health and addictions supports including:
• expanding distribution of Thrival Kits;
• increasing support for the NorWest Youth Hub;
• investing to expand Project 11;
• implementing a pilot project to provide mental health and addictions services to families at risk of child apprehension; and
• funding to expand walk-in mental health services and specialized trauma counselling at Klinic and the Laurel Centre to reduce waits and improve access to care.
For more information on the Community Schools program, visit www.edu.gov.mb.ca/csp/index.html.
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