La Moille School District 303 and Arukah Institute of Healing developed and submitted a grant in October to bring mental health support and services to seven local schools in Bureau and La Salle Counties.
The grant, totaling $6.86 million over five years, was awarded on Dec. 27. The overall purpose of the grant is to increase capacity of school-based mental health providers and increase access for youth, ages 12 through 18, to timely and appropriate mental health intervention in participating schools.
Participating schools include La Moille, Bureau Valley High School, De Pue School District 103, Hall High School, Mendota High School, Princeton High School and Ottawa High School.
La Moille Interim Superintendent Jay K. McCracken stated his appreciation of School Counselor Katie Shevokas, Chief Executive Officer of Arukah Sarah Scruggs and Arukah Project Director Dawn Conerton for their hard work in securing the grant.
“Most importantly, hundreds of students in Bureau and La Salle Counties will receive the social work and mental health services they desperately need,” McCracken said. “The funding will assist our seven participating school districts as they provide proactive help to our area youth.”
McCracken added that the La Moille Board of Education, administration and staff are proud to serve a key role in the grant program and thank all who had a part in making the grant a reality.
“We are thrilled to partner with La Moille and participating schools to secure this much needed funding,” Scruggs said. “Along with developing important collaborations and vital resources for students, my hope is that this increases community awareness of the struggles our kids face every day.”
Scruggs added that Bureau and La Salle County youth have markedly high rates of poverty and chronic absenteeism relative to State of Illinois and National averages.
“Teens in our area also have higher alcohol and marijuana usage, suicide ideation and prolonged feelings of extreme sadness,” Scruggs said. “We saw this data as a cry for help and we knew we needed to be involved.”
For this ongoing project, Conerton of Arukah will serve as Project Director and Shevokas of La Moille will serve as School SEL Liaison.
Shevokas will be presenting a detailed plan to the La Moille School Board during its regular meeting at 7 p.m. on Jan. 19 at 801 S. Main St. in La Moille.