For students and families in Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205, connecting students and their families with community mental health services will become easier in the coming weeks, thanks to the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Elmhurst CARES Program.
CARES, an acronym for Community Advocacy, Resilience, Engagement and Supports, will allow District staff to easily provide referrals to mental health providers. Funding from the grant will be used to pay for the referral service, called Referral GPS, and to provide mental health services at no cost to students from low-income backgrounds.
Funded through a grant from the Illinois Department of Public Health, eleven local school districts collaborated to ensure that as many students in DuPage County as possible would have access to these services. Students will have the opportunity to access services through referrals by the school district and receive telehealth support from established community-based providers. Families will also be able to review options for community mental health using a confidential website.
“When students have strong mental health, they are able to do better in school, have stronger relationships with their peers, and our adults are able to connect with them so that they can focus on school,” said Dr. Kevin Rubenstein, assistant superintendent for student services who helped to coordinate the grant application process. “Put simply, this will allow our students and their families to have the necessary support and services so that they can be at their best.”
The District has been focused on its student mental health efforts including training staff on Mental Health First Aid and updating resources for students in middle schools to support social and emotional learning.
“This grant aligns with the District’s mission to Educate, Engage, and Empower all students,” said Dr. Keisha Campbell, superintendent of D205 schools. “The grant will build positive community partnerships that provide opportunities for student and family engagement and enhance student learning and mental health.”