FITCHBURG – The Fitchburg Public Schools system has been awarded a $165,000 grant from the Baker-Polito administration through the Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health (DPH) to enhance comprehensive school health services for students with economic disadvantages.
The grant will be used to provide mental and physical health services aimed at improving student attendance and boosting their academic achievement.
“All the evidence points to the fact that children can’t learn if they are not healthy,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders. “This funding will support our efforts to keep students healthy, in school, and prepared to learn.”
The four-year grant is funded by the state and was awarded through a competitive bidding process. The grant comes with three, 2-year options to renew.
Fitchburg Public Schools’ grant was one of more than $7.5 million in grants to 123 public school districts and 11 non-public schools across Massachusetts. Each school district will receive from $3,000 to $250,000 annually, depending on student enrollment, community need, and the level of programming that schools committed to in their grant applications.
“Massachusetts is widely considered the gold standard when it comes to school health programs because we are among just a handful of states where a majority of public schools have nurses on the premises throughout the day,” said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH. “Having these types of services available during the school day allows students to get the health services they need and remain in school.”
The funding will be used for a variety of programs intended to support:
- District-level leadership committed to promoting a comprehensive school health program;
- Case management, including active and engaged partnerships with healthcare providers in the community that address student chronic health conditions;
- Education and prevention services to address substance use and other chronic disease prevention within the greater community using trauma- and resilience-informed approaches;
- Development of high-quality programs that promote equity, address disparities in student populations, improve access to services in the community, and support higher graduation rates for all students.
The grants will be administered by the DPH School Health Services program, which supports all public and non-public school districts in the Commonwealth by providing health services, technical assistance, and other support. Those school districts represent approximately 880,000 public school students and 120,000 non-public school students.
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