Released: April 7, 2022
Media, PA- At the meeting of County Council on Wednesday, April 6, 2022, District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer, together with Council Chair Dr. Monica Taylor, Director of Human Services Sandra Garrison, and representatives from Bloom Consulting, presented the results of their more than year-long effort to study the state of the mental, behavioral, and substance abuse treatment services available for school-aged children in Delaware County.
The project – known as the Healthy Kids, Healthy Schools Initiative – had its origin in a meeting in the summer of 2020 between the District Attorney, Council members, and educators from around the county. The educators shared their concern about the surge in untreated and under-treated mental and behavioral health issues in their student populations and expressed concern that these issues were affecting the safety of both their students and their staff.
Following the initial meeting, District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer began assembling a team to look at ways that the County might approach this issue in a collaborative, comprehensive, and equity-minded way. Using “Safe Schools” state grant funding, Bloom Consulting was hired to assist, and they have been working for more than a year with stakeholders from all over Delaware County. The “Safe Schools” funding historically had been distributed to Delaware County schools to improve the physical safety of their buildings through the purchase of locks, cameras, and similar items. However, recognizing the level of concern expressed by educators, the District Attorney requested, and received, permission from the state to use a portion of the funding to look the state of the County’s mental, behavioral, and substance misuse treatment services for school-aged children.
In May 2021, Bloom presented the results of their work in a research report. The research included interviews with more than 40 stakeholders, including educators, mental health providers, community organizations, and human services staff, as well as the results of 8,711 survey respondents. Following the completion of the research report, Bloom began the process of creating a strategic plan to improve the delivery of services in Delaware County.
The strategic plan released on April 6, 2022 is the result of countless hours of conversation and collaboration with multiple stakeholders.
As an initial step in the work outlined in the strategic plan, the County has committed to the creation of a position within the Department of Human Services – using currently available funding - that will serve as the coordinator for the ongoing work of this Initiative. The position will be responsible for facilitating efforts to continuously review and improve the delivery of services to the children in our community and will serve as a point of contact for educators in the County with regard to those services.
“Delaware County is committed to continuing to serve as a leader in improving the mental and behavioral health services offered to the young residents in our County,” said Council Chair Dr. Monica Taylor. “In tasking a specific individual with the responsibility to provide a clear line of communication between our schools and our providers, we hope to better support our school communities and our families. The plan presented this evening will assist the County in our commitment to doing what it can to address the persistent and pervasive mental health crises that confronts our children and youth.”
In reflecting on the work of this Initiative, District Attorney Stollsteimer stated, “It has been deeply gratifying to witness the commitment of the individuals involved in this project to improving the mental and behavioral health services for our children. As the work has progressed, it has been both dismaying and affirming to learn of the recent assessments by both the US Surgeon General and the Centers for Disease Control, both of which identified the same issue that we did back in the summer of 2020 – we have a growing mental health crisis confronting our children and young people. While this crisis predates the pandemic, it has been made catastrophically worse by the stress of the last two years. I want to commend County Council for their commitment to this work, and to Bloom consulting for their dedication and professionalism. I also want to express my deep and abiding gratitude to all the administrators, teachers, parents, and community members who took the time to help us with this project. I look forward to seeing this work continue and expand.”
The Strategic Plan can be found here: https://delcopa.gov/pdf/DHKHSI.StrategicPlan.FINAL.2022.03.15.pdf
The Research Report can be found here: https://delcopa.gov/pdf/DHKHSI.ResearchReport.FINAL.2021.06.18.pdf