BURGAW, NC - The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) announced grant funding from the U.S. Department of Education to help meet the mental health needs of students in Pender County Schools. 

PCS is one of eight school districts across North Carolina to receive the funding to increase the number and diversity of mental health service providers in high-needs schools. 

"We can use this money to provide licensure support, professional development, and other support and incentives to our counselors and school social workers and to our counselor and school social work interns." said Leanne Radabaugh, Pender County Schools Director of Student Services. "The goal is to retain the staff we have in place, recruit a more diverse social work staff and provide high quality professional development experiences to our counselors and school social workers.”

Pender County Schools will receive $26,000 to finish out the 2022-23 school year and receive $62,000 annually through 2027.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt said funding from these two grants is critical to addressing the growing student mental health needs and in filling vacant school-based mental health positions.

“This funding is so important in terms of building capacity for mental health service professionals in schools,” Truitt said. “As an awardee of both grants, the agency is able to increase mental health support for students in designated North Carolina schools, while strengthening the future pipeline of school-based mental health providers through recruitment, retention and incentives.”

As a part of the “Project Adding Direct Support” (ADS) grant, the school system will be working with higher institutions with approved school counseling and social worker licensure programs. Those are the University of North Carolina Charlotte, the University of North Carolina Pembroke, and N.C. State University.

Pender County Schools currently has 25 school counselors, eight full-time school social workers (with four interns), seven school psychologists (with one intern), a licensed clinical social worker, and two behavior analysts. PCS also contracts with two behavior consulting companies to support schools as needed.