Illinois leaders are correct to focus on stepping up mental health services in schools in the wake of COVID-19, as our surveys demonstrate how dealing with the pandemic negatively affected students. But not all Illinoisans were disrupted the same way, and state leaders need to ensure that resources reach the children who were hardest hit. It is clear that the city of Chicago itself is the epicenter of this crisis. [Crain's]
“The last few years have been challenging for all of us and this is especially true for our children,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker observed in August in announcing that the state is making $10 million in federal money available as grants. He understated.
The need is clear. In a recent Harris Poll survey of Chicago-area parents of school-age children (ages 5-17), 90% said that the local, state and/or federal governments need to provide more aid to support students’ mental health, and 92% said that school districts ought to prioritize offering mental health services. Pluralities of these parents said that the pandemic harmed their child’s social health (42%) and emotional development (36%), while significant numbers also reported negative effects on behavioral development (35%) and academics (33%).