One hundred and fifty-three students in Jonathan Alder Local Schools received help with everything from emotional and psychiatric problems to housing and food during the 2016-17 school year, according to JoLynn Wheatley, the district’s social worker.
Wheatley told school board members on Monday that number may increase since 48 students have already been referred for help in the first three months of the current school year.
While that represents only a fraction of total enrollment, the district is working to address those needs.
More than half of the children and teens referred last year needed help with social skills, depression and anxiety. More than 21 percent needed help with housing, food and other basic needs. Nineteen percent were referred for academic underachievement and attendance problems, Wheatley said.
Of those referred this year, housing is the biggest issue, she noted.
‘The biggest surprise is the number of families that are ‘doubled up,’” she added.
Programs to address problems like depression, drug addiction, potential suicide and bullying are ongoing.
Local food pantries serve 135 Alder students — mostly elementary students — with supplemental food bags weekly. About 400 students receive free lunches at school. Another 60 pay a reduced lunch fee.
The district continues to work with The Counseling Source, Inc. to search for a full-time therapist for students with emotional problems.
Wheatley said the agency has identified a candidate for the position. But that person cannot start work until January.
Jane Beathard is a contributing writer for The Advocate.