Small and Rural Grants

Small and Rural Grants through Title IV Part A

Often small and rural districts face barriers in accessing mental and behavioral health resources. For many rural districts, distance creates a barrier because Local Mental Health Authorities (LMHA) and other mental health resources are located hours away. Smaller districts frequently have less staff to address mental and behavioral health needs. The Title IV Part A grant, provided by the Texas Education Agency, is intended to foster regional collaboration to decrease barriers and improve the educational experience for students and staff.

Grant funds are provided to each of the 20 Educational Service Centers (ESCs) to support the delivery of training, coaching, and technical assistance to small and rural local education agencies (LEA) on enhancing the multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) for mental and behavioral health. The Small and Rural grant is building the expertise, skill, and capacity at the regional level (through the ESCs) and the local level (through the LEAs) with an emphasis on mental health and behavioral health.

The ESC’s participate in a monthly Behavioral Health Professional Learning Community that focuses on resource and relationship building for LEAs. Each ESC is responsible for partnering with five or more small/rural LEAs to assess, build, and improve their mental/behavioral health systems. The Title IV A Grant’s focus on mental/behavioral health for small and rural LEAs has three overarching goals:

  1. Provide all students access to a well-rounded education
  2. Improve academic outcomes by maintaining safe and healthy students
  3. Improve the use of technology to advance student academic achievement

Key Activities and Accomplishments

There are many exciting efforts underway through the grant program. A few highlights include:

  • ESC Mental Health Leads have participated in a monthly Professional Learning Community to build skills, identify resources, and engage in peer collaboration;
  • ESCs have each partnered with five or more small and rural districts to engage in local needs assessment and planning;
  • ESCs have facilitated regional Professional Learning Communities with participating districts, creating resilient, collaborative communities within their regions for small and rural LEAs;
  • ESCs have offered training to the LEAs to meet the unique local needs identified in planning partnerships; and
  • Small and rural districts have seen an increase in formal and informal relationships with LMHAs, the Texas Child Health Access Through Telemedicine (TCHATT) program, and other community mental and behavioral health resources.

By the Numbers:

Here are a few of the ESC accomplishments (as of February 2021):

  • 60 SHAPE quality assessments conducted
  • 52 mental health resource maps developed
  • 154 trainings or professional learning community events held with LEAs
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