The Office of Public Instruction has received a $9,000,000 grant from the federal Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to support the Advancing Wellness and Resiliency in Education. Director of Communications Dylan Klapmeier explains.

“This grant is going to build on the previous work that OPI has done with SAMHSA and our partners at DPHHS to make Multi-Tiered Systems of Support available to at risk students and families in need,” Klapmeier said.

The Montana Project AWARE Initiative will develop state infrastructure at the OPI and Montana DPHHS’ Children’s Mental Health Bureau to support school districts across Montana.

“It is particularly going to be targeting substance abuse prevention and some of the coping skills and mental health needs that go along with families that are affected by substance abuse,” Klapmeier said. “The goal is to get more resources out there to local schools and communities in need.”

This grant will also fund three districts in Montana to implement evidence-based and culturally competent school mental health practices.

“Billings, Dillon, and Rocky Boy School Districts are going to be the initial school districts that OPI and DPHHS will be working with,” Klapmeier said. “We do have several other SAMHSA grants that are operating right now and they all work in conjunction to serve the whole state.”

“Now more than ever, Montana must serve the social-emotional and mental health needs of our students,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen. “The OPI is committed to supporting Montana families and schools. This grant will allow us to expand our resources and services to Montana students.”