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UNI receives $2.5M federal grant to increase mental health access in rural Iowa schools


The University of Northern Iowa has been awarded a $2.5 million grant by the U.S. Department of Education to continue its efforts in improving mental health access for children and adolescents in Iowa.The grant will be used to train 15 school psychologists over the next five years, in partnership with Great Prairie, Central Rivers and Northwest Area Education Agencies, which represent 52 of the 99 counties in the state. The program is part of a larger “grow your own” effort to increase school psychologists in Iowa, where the number of students for each school psychologist is more than tripled the National Association of School Psychologists’ recommendation of one school psychologist for every 500 students. Mental health struggles can affect student success, as reported by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which states that 37% of high school students with a mental illness who are 14 or older drop out of school. To qualify for the program, candidates must be K-12 educators or in a  related field, with a master’s degree. The courses are primarily online, and students can continue working full time while completing the coursework. At the end of the program’s three years, students will earn an educational specialist degree and must commit to working in their AEA for three years. The grant builds on the success of a program UNI School Psychology helped establish with Green Hills AEA and Prairie Lakes AEA in western Iowa in 2019.  

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