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Letter to Schools Chancellor: Close the gap in mental health care

Social workers have overwhelming caseloads and are stretched too thin. In fact, a 2017 study by my office found that there was a ratio of just 1 social worker to every 800 students in the borough of Manhattan.

That’s why I called on New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza to make more mental health care available to students. DOE data shows there are not enough social workers or direct service providers based in schools.

In a letter to Chancellor Carranza, I stressed the “great need for an increase in social workers, school-based mental health direct service providers and additional socio-emotional support,” based on recent school data.

New York City falls far short of the standard recommended ratio of 1 social worker for every 250 students and 1:50 for the most vulnerable populations set by the National Association for Social Workers.

My letter calls on the city to…

  • Restructure community school funding to improve mental health support.
  • Rethink how social work graduate school interns can play a role in supporting more students.
  • Expand the use of training in restorative practices.
  • Stop the practice of relying on School Safety Agents to respond to all in-school mental health crises.
  • Increase funding for the School-based Mental Health Prevention & Intervention Program for High Needs Schools (SMHPIP) so high need schools can afford the services of full-time social workers.

The complete letter can be viewed here.