What is Project AWARE?
The Tennessee AWARE initiative is building state capacity to support and promote school and community-based efforts to expand youth access to behavioral health resources and promote resilience and positive behavior functioning among school-age youth. The initiative emphasizes strong integration between state and local planning and implementation to address gaps in infrastructure and to create new capacity supporting replication, expansion, and sustainability of promising approaches statewide.
Fayette County Schools is set to receive funding over the next five years to plan and implement the AWARE initiative. Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education (AWARE) aims to expand youth access to mental health resources and promote resilience and positive behavioral functioning among school-age youth to keep youth in school and out of the juvenile justice system. Project AWARE represents the third and fourth components of President Obama's “Now Is the Time Initiative” which is aimed at making schools safe and focusing on access to mental health services. Fayette County is one of four Tennessee counties to win this federal award coming from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Prevention strategies will include developing mental health awareness and outreach campaigns, youth and family engagement strategies, establishing early identification and referral processes to connect youth to appropriate services, placing mental health clinicians in schools to deliver effective, targeted and intensive interventions and referrals, refining school discipline policies to reduce loss of instructional time and removals from school due to suspension and expulsion, and implementing evidence-based violence prevention programs.
Fayette County will contract with Professional Care Services to provide school-based therapy. As with any health care services involving minors, permission from a parent or guardian is required. In addition, Fayette County Schools will hire three Student Support Specialists to provide support to students/families and connect them to community resources.
Contact Tracey Davis, AWARE Director for more information: