Providing students with resources to help foster their physical, emotional, and mental health goes a long way on putting them, and keeping them, on a path to success. In Boston, we believe it’s our job to help ensure every part of a student’s needs are met — through innovative teaching methods; dedicated teachers; healthy school meals; added learning time; and experts who can address children’s physical and mental health. That’s why we’re investing $2.4 million in creating new physical and mental health supports for BPS students.
The City of Boston is proud of its track record of effectively managing healthcare costs, in the face of national trends that have put significant upward pressure our costs. Although they might not seem connected, Boston’s strong fiscal management has real impacts on our residents’ lives — in this case, in the lives of our students. Because of our fiscal policies, we have been able to shift $2.4 million in what were previously healthcare costs, and instead invest those funds in our most important resource — our children.
Our proposed Boston Fiscal Year 2019 budget will now include a new $2.4 million investment that will fund eight additional nurses and 12 additional psychologists and social workers for Boston students. The $1.109 billion BPS budget marks the largest in City history, and a $48 million increase over last year’s budget. In March, the Boston School Committee passed the Fiscal Year 2019 BPS budget with a unanimous vote.
This new $2.4 million investment will add eight nurses, seven psychologists, four social workers, and a director of social work services. Eight new nurses will bring the number of schools with at least one full-time nurse to 74.
The seven new psychologists who will be integrated into student services include five bilingual school psychologists and two district-wide psychologists, which will significantly increase the amount of mental health services available to students. In addition, BPS will hire four bilingual trauma and resiliency social workers, who will focus on helping students and families address trauma that may have occurred in their lives.
A director of social work will also be hired to support these four new front-line social workers, in addition to BPS’ 55 current school-based social workers, as well as student interns deployed to schools. The director will provide supervision of school-based social workers as well as assistance, and will develop partnerships with mental health organizations and higher education institutions, focused on advancing mental health for all BPS students.
Why is this important?
We know many students enter into Boston Public Schools with stresses they need help addressing. If students can not concentrate on their academics, because of events or circumstances that have happened in their lives in or outside of school, it means BPS isn’t helping the whole child, and that, as we know, plays a critical role in their future. That’s why investments in every part of BPS students’ lives are so important.
I want to thank all of Boston’s nurses, psychologists, social workers, teachers, principals — each and every person who cares deeply about their students, and works every day to ensure Boston’s children receive the best care and education. This new funding will help further that goal, and make a real difference in students’ lives.
Martin Walsh is Mayor of the City of Boston.