Ten Prince George’s County schools will be receiving full-time counselors through a partnership between the school system, Prince George’s County government and a Baltimore-based nonprofit.
The Children’s Guild, which operates special-needs schools for children with autism, trauma and multiple disabilities in Baltimore and Prince George’s County, also provides mental health services to students in Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties, said Elizabeth Garcia, director of Behavioral Health Services for The Children’s Guild.
“We provide counseling services in the school, both family and individual, and we attend multidisciplinary meetings for particular students,” Garcia said. “We meet with the student, the family and the teachers to determine a child’s individual needs, whether that be counseling at school, at home, or other services.”
Garcia said The Children’s Guild expects to have a full-time counselor staffing each school by the start of the upcoming school year.
The 10 schools to be serviced in Prince George’s County are located in two of the six neighborhoods that are part of the Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative, or TNI; Kentland/Palmer Park and Suitland/Coral Hills.
TNI has been a signature program of Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) to provide increased services such as crime prevention, medical services and educational services, in high-poverty communities in the county.
Garcia said The Children’s Guild was asked by Prince George’s County government to provide services to TNI schools, due to the organization’s focus on serving children in high-poverty areas.
The schools to receive mental health services are Central High School in Capitol Heights, Cora Rice Elementary School in Kent, G. James Gholson Middle School in Kent, William Paca Elementary School in Landover, Andrew Jackson Academy in Forestville, Bradbury Heights Elementary School in Capitol Heights, Drew Freeman Middle School in Suitland, Suitland Elementary School, Suitland High School and William Hall Academy in Capitol Heights.
Baker’s education advisor Christian Rhodes said The Children’s Guild has a well-documented history of working with counties and school systems to provide services, particularly in high-poverty areas.
“What we’re really excited about is that they’ll be able to provide a full-time designated professional at each school, not part-time, not by appointment only,” Rhodes said. “They’ll actually be integrated into the fabric of the school, which we feel will help eliminate many of the hurdles families in TNI neighborhoods face in accessing these services.”