January 06, 2023

Wyden, Merkley: Nearly $20 Million to Oregon School Districts to Hire More Mental Health Providers

Douglas, Jackson and Multnomah county districts to benefit

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today announced that four Oregon school districts will receive a combined nearly $20 million in competitive grants from the U.S. Department of Education to hire additional licensed mental health providers over the next five years.

“Students, teachers and counselors across Oregon tell me just how crucial school-based mental health services are to young people facing challenges at home and in the classroom—but these services are stretched to the breaking point,” said Wyden, who is leading bipartisan legislation to transform youth mental health services in Oregon and across the nation. “While I am gratified to see this investment in Douglas, Jackson and Multnomah county school districts, more providers are needed state- and nationwide. I’m all in to remove barriers so that all students can benefit from school-based mental health care.”

“Mental health care is essential health care, especially for school-aged kids, which is why I introduced the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Act to put more providers in schools,” said Merkley. “I’m grateful that, in the spirit of that legislation, Douglas, Jackson, and Multnomah counties are receiving this critical federal investment to help support students. Our children’s success in the classroom is more than just test scores, and with the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic and other unprecedented global and weather events greatly impacting the growth and experience of our school-aged kids, we must invest in programs that provide social and emotional support to all students."

The School-Based Mental Health grant program through the U.S. Dept. of Education provides funds intended to recruit and retain school-based mental health services providers, as well as increase the diversity and cultural/linguistic competency among providers. These grant funds will be allocated as follows:

  • $6,808,215 to Douglas Education Services District
  • $2,649,732 to Jackson County School District #4 DBA Phoenix-Talent Schools
  • $5,538,155 to School District 1J Multnomah County   
  • $4,918,177 to Corbett School District 39

“This grant will play a critical role to expand mental health support throughout thirteen component school districts in Douglas County. The increased services will positively impact our students, families, staff and community,” said Analicia Nicholson, Douglas Education Service District superintendent.

"The Corbett School District is very excited about the ability to expand the school-based mental health opportunities for our Cardinal families within our schools and community using the funds from the US Department of Education grant,” said Derek Fialkiewicz, Corbett School District superintendent.

"This grant puts Phoenix-Talent Schools in a position to greatly expand our students' mental health support system, and the collaborative partnership PTS has with La Clinica makes it a perfect fit. Following the devastating 2020 Almeda fire and the impact of the Covid pandemic, the need here is tremendous and likely will be for some time. We are very excited to get to work and eternally grateful for this opportunity to help our kids and families," said Brent Barry, Superintendent Jackson County School District #4 DBA Phoenix-Talent Schools.

“These dollars will augment the supports already in place across PPS schools to better serve our students, especially those experiencing isolation, depression and other adverse symptoms, resulting from the challenges of the last few years.” He added, “With this 5-year, $5.5 million dollar investment, Portland Public Schools will hire more than a dozen school psychologists to provide culturally affirming mental health supports,” said Guadalupe Guerrero Portland Public Schools' Superintendent.