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Federal Grant to Address Mental Health Workforce Shortages in High-Need Schools

LANSING—The U.S. Department of Education recently awarded the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) a five-year, $4.5 million grant to expand the number of school-based mental health service providers in high-need schools.

MDE will use the federal funds to launch the Michigan Earn, Learn, and Serve in Schools (Mi-ELSiS) program, which provides 165 graduate-level trainees a $20,000 stipend in return for working in high-need schools for a minimum of one year. All Mi-ELSiS costs are financed with federal funds.

“We are mobilizing on multiple fronts to build a strong mental health workforce talent pipeline for all Michigan schools,” said Dr. Diane Golzynski, MDE’s Interim Deputy Superintendent for Finance and Operations and Mi-ELSiS project director. “This work directly aligns with Michigan’s Top 10 Strategic Education Plan that seeks in part to improve the health, safety, and wellness of all learners.”

The Mi-ELSiS partnership includes five institutions of higher education and four high-need local school districts. These institutions and districts will place school psychology, school counseling, and school social work graduate students in high-need schools to complete field work.

The program will also provide financial support to high-need schools to recognize the valuable role that current school-based providers play in building a talent pipeline by supervising graduate students.

“While high ratios of students to school-based providers are a national issue, Michigan is taking an exceptional, statewide approach,” said Drew Murray, senior strategy and public affairs director at the Michigan Health Council.

Only two other state agencies received federal funding. As the program’s fiscal and administrative agent, the Michigan Health Council will help Mi-ELSiS partners meet their goal to hire 83 of 165 trainees after their year of post-graduation service, with 50 of the 83 new hires coming from diverse backgrounds.

For more information about the federal program, visit the Mental Health Service Professional Demonstration Grant Program.

To review MDE’s latest progress on Michigan Top 10 Strategic Education Plan goals, please visit Michigan’s Top 10 Strategic Education Plan.