The Maine Department of Education (DOE) announced a $9 million investment, funded through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, to increase school-based mental health staff and services in Maine. Expanding Access in School Environments (EASE) Maine will provide grants to nine high-need school administrative units (SAUs) to support efforts to recruit and retain mental health providers and expand services to students.
Eastport Public Schools, Jefferson Public Schools, Lewiston Public Schools, RSU 12, RSU 24, RSU 54, RSU 73, RSU 79, and RSU 85 will receive funding over the duration of this 5-year grant. These SAUs were identified as high need because they had low student to mental health provider ratios relative to the rest of the state and nation. Through the EASE Maine grants, the Maine DOE will partner with these SAUs to develop and implement whole student-focused strategies to meet the unique needs of each community, increase student access to much-needed mental health services, and recruit, retain, and re-specialize staff to support the mental health and wellbeing of students, staff, and families. The funding will enable SAUs to collaborate with one another and with community organizations, state agencies, and other partners to confront growing mental health needs following the pandemic by increasing the number of highly qualified mental health services providers in schools.
“Supporting the mental health and wellbeing of our students is essential to making sure they thrive in the classroom and in their lives. Thanks to the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, these grants will help schools hire and retain the social workers, counselors, and mental health providers they need to address student mental health needs, which have only grown during the pandemic,” said Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin.
“We at RSU 12 are pleased to partner with the Maine Department of Education through the Expanding Access to Supportive Environments in Maine Schools (EASE) grant. This grant will allow us to build our capacity to hire, retain, and develop professionally qualified school-based mental health teams that reflect our community and provide us with much-needed professional development opportunities and technical assistance. Given the mental health challenges many of our students face, this grant couldn’t have come at a more crucial time. We are truly excited about the possibilities and the positive impact this grant will have on our students and community,” said RSU 12 Superintendent Howard Tuttle.
“We appreciate the conversation and opportunity to help support our students’ social and emotional wellbeing and look forward to making the most of this opportunity,” said RSU 54 Superintendent Jon Moody.
EASE Maine SAU Allocations (Annually for 5 Years):
Eastport Public Schools – $65, 541/year
Jefferson Public Schools – $67,947/year
Lewiston Public Schools – $248,644/year
RSU 12 – $92,698/year
RSU 24 – $88,251/year
RSU 54 – $141,655/year
RSU 73 – $110,560/year
RSU 79 – $121,496/year
RSU 85 – $63,208/year
The Maine DOE’s Office of School and Student Supports provides support and resources for all schools in Maine related to student and staff mental health and wellbeing. Learn more here.