State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister talks new $2 million grant that will address mental health, safety in Oklahoma schools

Digital First

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma State Department of Education has received a generous grant from the U.S. Department of Justice: $2 million to be used for mental health and safety in Oklahoma schools.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said that grant money will be utilized this school year.

“Immediately, it is going to help with providing a set of standards that our school counselors will use in building a framework that all school districts will be able to tap into, and it’s not been updated since the 90s,” said Superintendent Hofmeister.

Superintendent Hofmeister said the need for more mental health resources and education is great here in the state.

“It is a fact that Oklahoma has the largest number of children who have experienced two or more Adverse Childhood Experiences,” said Superintendent Hofmeister. “One of those indicators is if you have a parent who was or is incarcerated. And with Oklahoma, having lead the world in female incarceration and male incarceration per capita, you can see how that, then, has an impact on the children that we have in our classrooms.”

The $2 million will go towards the state’s READY4Life initiative, which addresses how school and community resources can create safe environments, as well as manage responses to threats and violence.

“This is different than other grants where only certain schools are included,” said Superintendent Hofmeister. “This particular grant and the $2 million will spread its impact to every school in the state of Oklahoma.”

Superintendent Hofmeister said they want to ensure schools are aware of resources outside the school setting, so part of the grant will go towards building asset maps of those resources so the districts can connect with support that children and families need.

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