Lauderdale County Schools is set to receive over $ 2.2 million in funding over the next five years to plan and implement the AWARE initiative. Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education (AWARE) aims to expand youth access to mental health resources and promote resilience and positive behavioral functioning among school-age youth to keep youth in school and out of the juvenile justice system. Project AWARE represents the third and fourth components of President Obama's Now Is the Time Initiative which is aimed at making schools safe and focusing on access to mental health services. Lauderdale County is one of three Tennessee counties to win this federal award coming from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Prevention strategies will include developing mental health awareness and outreach campaigns, youth and family engagement strategies, establishing early identification and referral processes to connect youth to appropriate services, placing mental health clinicians in schools to deliver effective, targeted and intensive interventions and referrals, refining school discipline policies to reduce loss of instructional time and removals from school due to suspension and expulsion, and implementing evidence-based violence prevention programs.
Lauderdale County has contracted with Professional Care Services to provide school-based therapy. As with any health care services involving minors, permission from a parent or guardian is required. In addition, Lauderdale County Schools has hired three school social workers to provide support to students/families and connect them to community resources. Contact Lindsey Smith, AWARE Director for more information.