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Sep 17

Keeping Our Schools and Community Safe

Posted on September 17, 2014 at 1:47 PM by County Executive

When the tragic shooting occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012, I knew we had to have a conversation about school safety in our community to maintain a focus on prevention.

The following Monday, the St. Charles County Council passed an emergency ordinance to establish a 14-member task force to study and make recommendations to improve safety procedures at public and private schools and colleges in St. Charles County. Based on the Schools, Mental Health and Community Services Task Force's identified need to expand Mental Health First Aid training to those who work with children and teens, the directors from the St. Charles County Community & Children’s Resource Board, St. Louis Mental Health Board, St. Louis County Children’s Service Fund, Franklin County Resource Board and Lincoln County Resource Board hosted a Youth Mental Health First Aid Training Program the week of Oct. 21-25. These boards stepped up to approve funding of $25,500 toward training costs to help give school districts access to the week-long program.

Similar to First Aid, Mental Health First Aid provides help to people suffering from a mental health condition or experiencing a crisis until treatment is secured or the crisis is resolved. Participants in the October workshop, offered by certified instructors from the Missouri Institute of Mental Health, learned how to assess a mental health crisis, intervene and connect youth to appropriate care. Twenty-five participants from St. Charles, Franklin, Lincoln, St. Louis Counties and the City of St. Louis attended, and I’ve heard that feedback was positive. Executives from the Children’s Services boards will explore offering the training again next spring or summer.

I would like to thank the members of the Schools, Mental Health and Emergency Services Task Force; Bruce Sowatsky, Executive Director of the St. Charles County Community & Children’s Resource Board; and the directors of all of the Children’s Services Boards in surrounding counties for their work in making this training program happen. I would also like to thank the school counselors and administrators who participated and are taking invaluable skills back to their districts. St. Charles County has prided itself on being a safe community, and we will continue to do all that we can to help our students and schools succeed.

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