Pre-COVID, Black people in Louisville were already dealing with the stress and trauma of redlining, disinvestment, and over-policing. Post-COVID and in the midst of the killings of Breonna Tayor, David McAtee, George Floyd, and others, we know that the toll on Black minds and bodies will be extremely high. The governor has made a commitment to ensure that every Black person in Kentucky has health insurance, but insurance coverage must be adequate. 

We must ensure that everyone in our community has access to well-trained, certified, mental health professionals and resources. That means not only ensuring mental health is covered by insurance, but also ensuring that providers are recruiting and working with a diverse pool of Black, trauma-informed, healing-centered, culturally responsive practitioners. 

Who needs to act? You; Insurance Providers; Community Health Centers; Hospital Organizations; Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness; Dr. Marty Pollio; JCPS Board of Education

JCPS Response

In examining the needs of all children, JCPS has developed strategies and established plans to give educators new ways to identify abuse and develop abuse prevention programs in schools. JCPS has partnered with Face It, a local child abuse prevention campaign, to implement a more robust child abuse prevention training for staff. Additional child abuse training will be included in the annual suicide prevention booster training that school counselors present to middle and high school students in January. Bullying prevention is another issue being addressed by our Culture and Climate Department. The bullying prevention team has expanded to provide more intense support to schools and students, and there is ongoing collaboration between our bullying prevention coordinator and the Exploited Children’s Help Organization (ECHO).

In recent years, JCPS has pledged more direct support to schools and that can be seen through newly created positions that put children first. Every school now has access to a mental health practitioner. This was a new position for the 2019-20 school year with an investment of more than $4 million. In addressing students’ academic needs, we had to recognize mental health supports that may be needed as well. JCPS has also made the investment of having an implementation coach at every school. This individual works with our students with special needs to follow up on meetings and individualized education plans and ensures that all functions are completed to best assist the student in achieving success at every level. Dozens of central office employees working with our special education students have been shifted to schools. This move gives our team members an opportunity to work more closely with the needs of the student and their family. Although we have made major strides in providing supports to students, we know we have a long way to go to meet the ever growing social-emotional needs of our student population. In partnership with the Metro United Way, we must continue to expand the use of the United Community Platform to align community services with students and families. In the future, we must collaborate with Metro Louisville, non-profits, medical and social service providers, and funders to create more community-based schools that will provide wrap-around services to students and families in the school community.