Students and families in communities throughout Nova Scotia will have greater access to services and after-school programs with a multi-year expansion of SchoolsPlus and more mental health clinicians in schools.
Students and staff gathered at schools in Aylesford, Glace Bay, Inverness, and New Glasgow today, May 23, for the announcement of four new hub sites.
“More students, families and communities are now accessing a full range of support services that address their unique needs through SchoolsPlus,” said Karen Casey, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development.
“Important services like homework support, health-related information, guidance and mental health counselling are delivered in a safe, comfortable and familiar location for families.”
The Department of Health and Wellness is providing funding to add 10-and-a-half mental health clinician positions to support SchoolsPlus sites across the province.
“Mental health clinicians are an important part of the collaborative SchoolsPlus program,” said Health and Wellness Minister Leo Glavine, during the opening at St. Mary’s Elementary in Aylesford, which will serve nine more schools.
“Now more students across the province who are experiencing a mental health issue or a mental illness will have access to the support and care they need.”
SchoolsPlus brings a range of mental health services and other health programs together with mentoring, social work, homework support and justice services into schools where children, youth and families can easily access them.
“Having a mental health clinician in schools reduces barriers that rural families face, like transportation and the stigma of accessing mental health services,” said Megan Saunders, SchoolsPlus mental health clinician for the Annapolis-Bridgetown family of schools.
“I am able to see students and their families in their own schools, where they are most comfortable, and my role is helping to build capacity in the school community about mental health and mental wellness.”
Events were held at three other schools. Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Geoff MacLellan announced the hub site for Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board at John Bernard Croak V.C. Memorial School in Glace Bay, which will support six more schools.
Economic and Rural Development and Tourism Minister Michel Samson announced the Strait Regional School Board hub site at Inverness Education Centre Academy, will serve four more schools.
In New Glasgow, Guysborough-Eastern Shore-Tracadie MLA Lloyd Hines, on behalf of Ms. Casey, announced the hub site in Chignecto Central Regional School Board will be at New Glasgow Academy, and will serve four more schools.
The department, for the first time, has also pre-approved for next year one SchoolsPlus site each for the Cape Breton, Halifax, and South Shore boards and CSAP. In 2016-17, sites will be added in Chignecto Central, Tri-County and CSAP. The locations of the hub sites will be announced later.
“We are very pleased to receive word of an additional SchoolsPlus program for our board,” said Ambrose White, superintendent of Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board. “This program will enhance services provided to the students of the Glace Bay family of schools.”
SchoolsPlus is available in all eight school boards, providing services to more than 150 schools. For more information, visit http://schoolsplus.ednet.ns.ca .