“Everyone will face hardship. That is a part of life,” McCray said. “By acting early to help our youngest New Yorkers understand and manage their emotions, we can better equip them to handle stress, prevent or lessen the severity of future mental health challenges, and set them up for success. It is easier to grow a healthy child than to mend a broken adult.”
Under the program, staffers at nearly 400 pre-kindergarten and day care sites will get added training and classroom materials to support kids’ mental health.
Staffers at the pre-K and day care sites will also be able to refer kids to the seven Mental Health Network clinics, where those kids will have priority for services.
More than 3,000 kids and their families are expected to take part at first in the project that eventually aims to give mental health services to any of the city’s 100,000 universal pre-K students and city day care users who might need them.
The locations of the clinics are still to be determined, but there will be two in Bronx, two in Brooklyn and one each in the other three boroughs. The city schools have also invested $47 million in programs to improve school climate and boost students’ mental health under the de Blasio administration.
Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said pre-K staffers will be better equipped to help students build strong foundations for success in school and life thanks to the training they will receive under the Mental Health Network. “Teachers and school administrators play an important role in nurturing a child’s social and emotional growth,” Fariña said.