Governor Kathy Hochul announced over $100 million will be spent to reverse pandemic learning loss in schools.

The governor said districts can now take advantage of the Recover from COVID School Program, which will provide critical financial aid to support the mental health of their students.

In all, the state has made $108.3 million available.

A majority of the funds will help students address trauma they endured from the pandemic, while $8.3 million will be reserved to create or support new school-based mental health clinics.

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Why the program is needed

As explained by Governor Hochul:

The effects of the pandemic on our students were devastating and irreversible – that's why we’re making historic investments to address learning loss and expand mental health support in our schools. By pinpointing where students have fallen behind and getting them the mental health resources they need, this funding will help put New York students back on the path towards success.

The governor said children suffered when they were cut off from their teachers, friends, activities and support system.

She said students are still struggling, and some are falling behind because of it.

They had to trade their classroom for a computer screen. And the anxiety that some of these kids felt, especially in areas where there was a high rate of people contracting COVID, mostly our urban areas, mostly our communities of color. And one day a child is talking to grandma on the phone and the next day grandma's on a respirator never to be seen again by this child. That's not hypothetical. That's what I heard when I did round tables and listening sessions with kids across the state.

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The governor learned this information from the Listening Tour, which was conducted by the  Office of Children and Family Services as well as the New York State Office of Mental Health.

The OMH and OCFS spoke directly to the state's middle and high school students about where their schools can improve when it comes to promoting mental wellness.

In addition, math and reading scores plummeted nationwide, but Governor Hochul expressed that New York has the resources to "take care of it here."

Back to normal isn't going to work when our kids are already starting from behind. And our kids are also experiencing a mental health crisis like never before. So, we have to do something differently.

 

How the program will work

$100 million is intended to help schools and BOCES hire more teachers that specialize in trauma and learning loss, which will give students more resources to address their needs.

The new hires will also benefit teachers by helping them recognize the signs of a student struggling with their mental health and how to provide effective support.

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In addition, schools will be able to increase the availability of "interventions, programming, services, supports and promising practices that counter learning loss." The money will also ensure the programs' stability and continuation.

Schools can apply for the funds now via this website and have until August 18 to submit their information. The program will disburse the resources over the course of two years, averaging $50 million annually.

As for the remaining $8.3 million, it will be used to provide grants to create school-based mental health clinics and to support those that already exist.

Applications for those grants are due by October 5. You can find more information and apply for a grant on the NYS website.

Where is the money coming from?

Governor Hochul explained funding for the $100 million RECOVS program was included in New York State’s enacted budget for State Fiscal Year 2022-2023.

The governor spoke at length about the new initiative on Thursday. You can watch a recording of her speech below.

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