RPS expands mental health services for students through ChildSavers
Ronald E. Carrington | 10/29/2020, 6 p.m.
Richmond Public Schools has expanded the ChildSavers program to Thomas C. Boushall Middle, George W. Carver Elementary and J.H. Blackwell Elementary schools, offering more students access to mental health services.
The expansion brings to 10 the number of city schools in which ChildSavers therapists are located and available to help students.
During the pandemic while RPS has moved to virtual learning, therapy sessions are held via Zoom. Teachers, staff and parents can refer students to the service and therapists are currently accepting new clients.
“Providing mental health services at school breaks down barriers and allows more students to access trauma-informed therapy,” L. Robert Bolling, president and chief executive officer of ChildSavers, said in a statement. “The program is also an important opportunity to bring mental health resources to students of color, specifically Black youths.
“This is important work and we’re proud of our ongoing collaboration with Richmond Public Schools.”
RPS Superintendent Jason Kamras said in a recent interview that the school-based therapy program has been very helpful in getting students to understand why they have the various emotions they have and how to manage them.
“It’s not trying to change students’ emotions. (Students) have (their) emotions for real and important reasons,” Mr. Kamras said.
“It’s important for them to be able to identify when (they) have those emotions — anger, fear or sadness — and how teachers can respond to them effectively. That’s the key.”
ChildSavers’ expansion to the three schools is being funded through the federal CARES Act, according to the RPS administration, $500,000 from a $3 million allocation.
The program’s partnership with RPS began during the 2017-18 school year and was started at schools in the East End because that was one of the areas where students were dealing with significant trauma in their lives, program officials said. About 91 percent of the RPS students served by ChildSavers are African-American, officials said.
“The program focuses on trauma healing and building resistance,” Mr. Bolling told the Free Press.
ChildSavers also has mental health services and therapists connected with Martin Luther King Jr. Middle and Pre-School, and with Fairfield Court, Woodville, Henry L. Marsh III, Overby- Sheppard and Oak Grove-Bellemeade elementary schools.
“The program is also an important opportunity to bring mental health resources to students of color, specifically Black youth,” Mr. Bolling said. “Black Americans are more likely to be exposed to factors that increase the risk for developing a mental health condition, such as homelessness and exposure to violence.”
More information about ChildSavers is available at www. childsavers.org or (804) 644-9590. For crisis or immediate help, contact (804) 305-2430 or https://childsavers.org/immediate-response/.