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National report finds North Carolina schools lack nurses, social workers, and additional support staff

Source: The News & Observer

A recent report found that North Carolina schools are failing to meet the nationally recommended ratios of school counselors, school nurses, school psychologists and school social workers.

According to the 2023 School Mental Health Policy Report, North Carolina schools were found to have:

  • One school nurse for every 833 students, instead of a nurse at every school.
  • One school psychologist for every 1,979 students instead of for every 500 students.
  • One school counselor for every 361 students instead of for every 250 students. ▪ 
  • One school social worker for every 1,033 students instead of for every 250 students.

“Our students’ challenges around attendance, mental health and learning are interconnected and mutually reinforcing so they require a holistic and integrated response,” stated, Eric Davis, State Board of Education chair. “I urge all of us to focus our energies on actions and solutions that can meet these challenges.”

The findings come as national reports are sounding the alarm around the mental health crisis among youth. National survey, such as The Trevor Project, has underscored the ever rising mental health crisis that is disproportionately impacting Black, Brown and LGBTQ+ youth.

“Recent political attacks aimed at transgender and nonbinary youth have not only threatened their access to health care, support systems, and affirming spaces at school, they’ve also negatively impacted their mental health,” stated Dr. Jonah DeChants, Research Scientist, at The Trevor Project.

In addition to the rise of extremist agendas targeting public schools, decades of underfunding by state Republicans has exacerbated the issue of access to essential support staff in schools. 

Instead of investing in measures such as The Leandro Plan, which would allocate much needed funding towards school support positions, state Republicans have dragged their feet on passing adequate legislation. 

“Decisions to fund failing voucher and virtual charter programs at the expense of the Leandro Plan show that legislative leaders have no intention to use data to inform their policymaking,” wrote Kris Nordstrom, a Senior Policy Analyst at the North Carolina Justice Center’s Education & Law Project. “One can only conclude that these are intentionally cynical efforts to impede operations in public schools”.

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