Seth Byrd and Callie Cassick
DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — The University of Dayton School Psychology Program has received almost $1 million from the U.S Department of Education to help the shortage of school psychologists in Southern Ohio.
The grant is for five years to help with the education and recruitment.
In many rural communities the growing mental health needs of students have turned up the need for school psychologists, notably in areas like the southern part of Ohio where their psychologists have double the recommended caseloads.
Most students in Southern Ohio face poverty along with many other socioeconomic issues but a grant received by the University of Dayton is hoping to help those who need it the most.
The majority of the schools in those areas struggle to meet the best practice student-to-psychologist ratio which is why the grant is hoping to close the gap.
“Get educated,” Tracy Spires, a UD alum who helped bring the partnership together, said. “Develop their skills, bring those skills back, and they can show our students, Guess what? I came from here and I made it. You can do it too. It can give them a role model so that they can aspire for a career, something that they hadn’t even imagined.”
School psychologists are needed because unlike some professions they are educated in the whole gambit to help a child deal with whatever they face.
80 percent of tuition will be covered by the grant as they look to break down economic barriers for people who want to be a school psychologist but may not be able to afford tuition or living expenses.
The University of Dayton also offers a part-time program for people who need to still work full time. The grant aims to help educate seven psychologists in the five-year period while also providing a rich experience.
“It’s going to be a really nice way for us to build community across the regions in Ohio and to build a strong network of providers and practitioners who go through our program together and can support each other afterwards,” Elana Berstein, Assistant Professor of School Psychology at the University of Dayton, said.
“It’s great opportunities for our students to learn about the issues facing southern Ohio, like poverty and drug addiction and abuse, among others.”