At Fenger High, extra funds have provided critical mental health and social-emotional support to students. But what happens when the money runs out?
In many neighborhoods, violence is common and helping students cope is essential. But often schools must look for outside funding to pay for full-time social workers.
Exposure to violence is all too common in some neighborhoods and can cause developmental delays in youngsters. But counseling reaches only a fraction of children.
On the surface, the two stories are unrelated: the appalling upsurge in shootings and homicides in Chicago this year and the Chicago Teachers Union’s announcement of plans for a strike authorization vote. But look closer—there’s a connection. Union leaders want the district to negotiate on a host of issues, among them the lack of social workers and other mental health clinicians in schools. It’s a need that’s become more critical given this year’s upsurge in violence.
Students who witness shootings, lose a parent or experience other trauma often have trouble focusing in school and fall behind academically. CPS leaders want schools to provide therapy strategies that have been proven effective elsewhere. But a lack of resources has hindered the district’s plan.
The CPS unit of specially trained social workers and psychologists who help schools experiencing crises has shrunk in recent years. But the number of cases reported to the team has more than tripled.