Mental Health Service Professional grant recipients Michelle Warren, Ed.D., Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) at Osage County Interlocal Cooperative (OCIC) in Oklahoma and Christine Judson, Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) from Chicago Public Schools, share a common goal of recruiting and retaining school based mental health providers in their districts. In order to do this, both Michelle and Christine emphasize the importance of workforce development initiatives in providing quality training services, field experience, and certification opportunities to graduate students looking to enter these fields.
In rural Oklahoma, where student to school based mental health provider ratios are high, Michelle works for an educational cooperative that provides, among other things, mental health services to 14 different school districts that otherwise would not have the capacity to implement them. Her team trains and retains school psychology, school counselor, and school social worker interns by pairing them with skilled supervisors and encouraging collaboration across the three roles. These graduate-level interns gain field experience by working in schools, and Michelle and her team track their activity through evaluations of impact on students and staff.
For Christine in Chicago, workforce development initiatives are helpful in expanding schools’ behavioral health teams by providing graduate level training to school nurses. This training has helped many nurses get the proper certification and credentials needed to best serve the “whole student” in Chicago, and Christine's team has hired 300 nurses throughout the life of the grant. Christine credits their nurse recruiter for creating a sustainable system for drawing nurses into the district by demonstrating the benefits of working in a school setting.
Both Michelle and Christine highlight the importance of providing interns—whether school nurses, school psychologists, etc-- with the proper field experience as well as varied professional opportunities to better prepare them for the work ahead.
To learn more about Michelle and Christine’s workforce development initiatives, listen to their episode of In Session: Sustaining a Behavioral Health Workforce with Dr. Michelle Warren and Christine Judson | National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments (NCSSLE) (ed.gov)