Several local schools could soon have counseling and resource centers that will be the first of their kind.
Fort Bend ISD announced during an Oct. 21 board meeting that is has received a $1.5 million grant from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s Criminal Justice Division to pilot eight school-based mental health centers around district campuses within the Hightower, Marshall and Willowridge high school feeder patterns under the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (VOCA).
The grant will be used to cover the cost of the mental health clinics’ startup as well as the services provided by clinic staff. It is part of the district’s restructured behavioral health services efforts, according to FBISD.
FBISD began planning for the grant following an August 2018 meeting with State Rep. Rick Miller that showcased such clinics in Austin, and applied for the grant this past February.
“We will pilot these programs beginning in those feeder patterns, and then seek to expand them district-wide over the course of the next three years,” FBISD Director of Behavioral Health and Wellness Steve Shiels said during the meeting.
All FBISD students, parents and staff who have been victims of crimes – domestic violence, witnesses to a crime, those impacted by crime and victims of bullying and more – will be eligible to receive free counseling and therapeutic services from board-licensed clinicians when the centers open next year.
“We wanted to remove the barriers of money, travel, and even time for our families by providing therapeutic services and support on campus where students spend a majority of their days, Shiels said.
The district said anyone who has not been the victim of a crime, but still wants counseling, may still utilize the service, but must use Medicaid or private insurance to cover the cost of service.
FBISD said the tentative goal is to have the centers established with services available by early January 2020.