Sen. Steve Santarsiero announced $200 million in state funding to address student mental health and school safety in this year’s budget during a press conference in Lower Makefield. He encouraged school districts to apply for these grant funds through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
The program is based on Santarsiero’s Senate Bill 1263, the Safety and Violence Education Students Act, which would require schools to implement at least one hour, or a standard class period, per year of suicide prevention training, violence prevention training, and social inclusion training to students in grades six through 12.
“In this year’s budget, we were able to get many aspects of the SAVE Students Act passed and, most importantly, funded,” Santarsiero said. “As a society, we have an obligation to support our children and keep them safe. To do that, we must focus on mental health issues in our schools. Every district across the commonwealth should be taking advantage of this funding and implementing evidence-based programs to effectively teach youth and adults how to prevent school violence, shootings and other harmful acts.”
Santarsiero emphasized that, while this funding in the budget is important, there is still work to be done.
“We really do need to have these programs across the commonwealth in every school,” he said. “I’d like to see a uniform approach spearheaded by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, which is why passing SB 1263 is still important.”