Cedar Falls, Iowa — The University of Northern Iowa is using a US Department of Education grant to try to improve access to mental health professionals in rural schools.
UNI’s School Psychology Program Coordinator, Nicole Skaar, says it continues a previous “grow your own” effort to get more psychologists in schools.
Skar says this program will focus on the Great Prairie, Central Rivers, and Northwest Area Education Areas to train 15 school psychologists over the next five years. She says the national association recommends one school psychologist for every 500 students.
Skar says the first time they did the program those involved continued teaching while doing the work, but they’ve changed that this time.
The program uses part of the two-and-a-half million dollar grant to help them pay for their classes. Skar says there are teacher shortages in a lot of areas, and taking some existing teachers for the program is a concern.
Skar says they hope more psychologists can address some of the larger issues and help ease some of the pressure on the staff.
Skar says UNI at the same time is continuing to work on efforts to get more teachers into other fields as well to fill some of the gaps.