The federal funding will allow the Santa Barbara Elementary School District to expand counseling programs in five high-need elementary schools to assist students with emotional and behavioral problems, reduce disciplinary referrals and allow students to focus on learning.

“We know that some of our students face extraordinary personal circumstances that can have tremendous impact on their performance and concentration in the classroom,” said Capps. “That is why we must make sure students have access to the vital services of our school counselors and social workers. Getting these important services to our students will help all of them succeed.”

“School counselors benefit both students and teachers by helping to create a safe school environment, improve teacher effectiveness, increase academic achievement and promote student well-being,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “We believe that school-based counseling programs offer great promise for improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of students with mental-health issues.”

Grantees also will use funds to help increase the number of available and qualified counselors based on a school’s student population. Research shows that having adequate counseling services can help reduce the number of disciplinary referrals in schools, improve student attendance and academic performance and enhance development of social skills. Funds also may be used to support parental involvement, counselor and teacher professional development, and collaboration with community-based organizations that provide mental health and other services to students.

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