Safe and Supportive Schools

  • Description
  • Funding History
  • Proposals

A high-quality education for all residents of the Commonwealth is a key part of providing opportunity to our young people. There is increasing recognition that non-academic barriers, such as health, mental health, wellness, and family challenges, can impede students successfully completing their education. These barriers are especially concerning for schools that serve large populations of low-income students. Safe and Supportive Schools grants are one means to develop plans to address these challenges.

This Safe and Supportive Schools program helps schools across the Commonwealth better address the behavioral health needs of their children. Schools in the program develop safe and supportive school action plans in line with the framework created in the Act Relative to Children's Mental Health, a law enacted by the Legislature in 2008. Up to this point however, funding has not been sufficient to actually implement wide-ranging mental and behavioral health services in Massachusetts schools, as was envisioned in the 2008 law and subsequent state task force.

The Children’s Behavioral Health Task Force created tools and frameworks for schools to increase their ability to address social, emotional, mental health needs of all students. This group provided recommendations through a report issued in 2011. The task force called for coordinated state leadership, statewide implementation of its behavioral health framework, increased professional development for educators, and adding staff capacity within districts and schools to lead the effort to address social and behavioral needs.

The overall goal of the safe and supportive schools framework is to “promote supportive school environments where children with behavioral health needs can form relationships with adults and peers, regulate their emotions and behaviors, and achieve academic and nonacademic school success and reduces truancy and the numbers of children dropping out of school."

Updated April 2017

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