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Iowa Department of Education, University of Iowa to launch new pre-K-12 school mental health center

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

DES MOINES — Gov. Kim Reynolds, the Iowa Department of Education and the University of Iowa today announced a partnership aimed at expanding support for mental health, including training, resources and outreach to educators and schools across the state.

The new Iowa Center for School Mental Health will leverage the capacities of the Iowa Department of Education and the University of Iowa College of Education’s Baker Teacher Leader Center. This partnership will expand training opportunities for student teachers and practicing teachers, provide professional development resources and services to support mental health needs in schools and conduct research on the effective delivery of these services to students.

“The Iowa Center for School Mental Health further reinforces our commitment to ensuring Iowa’s youth have all the tools they need to be successful in school and in life,” stated Governor Reynolds. “This partnership between the Department of Education and the University of Iowa College of Education will better prepare schools and teachers to meet the behavioral and mental health needs of Iowa’s K-12 students, a role that’s increasingly important in a post-pandemic world.”

“Ensuring students feel connected and supported is crucial to their overall well-being and academic achievement,” said Iowa Department of Education Director Ann Lebo. “The Iowa Center for School Mental Health brings together education partners, policymakers and mental health professionals to address the impact pandemic-related disruptions have had on students and will focus on strengthening mental health support moving forward.”

The Center will start providing services and support to schools this summer and throughout the 2021-22 school year. This will include crisis response services, face-to-face and online training and coaching for teachers, strategic planning support, needs assessment and program evaluation of social-emotional learning and positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) implementation.

"I am proud that our university and college are part of this critical partnership to meet the mental health needs of Iowa K-12 students and their families, teachers, administrators and other school employees," said University of Iowa College of Education Dean Daniel Clay. "We are grateful to our state leadership for recognizing the expertise in our college and across campus to bring best practices and evidence-based support to schools. Together, we will help create healthier, stronger, and more resilient students, educators and communities."

The Iowa Department of Education designated $20 million in federal relief provided in the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER ll) Fund within the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRSSA) Act to help support the Center’s work. The law provides for a portion of Iowa’s total ESSER ll funds to be used for state-level educational efforts to address urgent issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This partnership is part of a larger statewide initiative to support student well-being and mental health through new partnerships and strategies that help all students be future ready.

More information on how schools can access services through the new center will be provided soon.

About the University of Iowa

The University of Iowa is one of the nation’s premier public research universities serving 31,730 students. Founded in 1847, it is the state’s oldest institution of higher education and is located alongside the picturesque Iowa River in Iowa City. A member of the Association of American Universities since 1909 and the Big Ten Conference since 1899, the University of Iowa is home to one of the most acclaimed medical centers in the country, as well as globally recognized leadership in the study and craft of writing. Iowa is known for excellence in both the arts and sciences, offering world-class undergraduate, graduate, and professional academic programs in a wide variety of fields.

About the University of Iowa College of Education

As part of a Big Ten Research I institution, the University of Iowa College of Education offers a personal, affordable, and top-ranked education for almost 1,400 undergraduate and graduate students. These students hail from all 99 Iowa counties, all 50 states, and 80 different countries, including a growing number of distance learners.

In 1847, Iowa legislators created the State University of Iowa, the state's first public institution of higher education to provide teacher training for Iowa's growing population. In 1872, the UI created the nation’s first permanent college-level department of education.

Today, the UI College of Education is home to many nationally recognized, highly-ranked graduate programs. The Secondary Education Teacher Education Program is ranked in the top 2 percent nationally and the Elementary Education Teacher Education Program is ranked in the top 6 percent nationally.

The college’s vision is to pursue world-class outcomes in all that it pursues: leading research, engaging its communities, and preparing education and mental health professionals for innovation and impact.

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Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on June 25, 2022 at 2:24am.