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Shaheen, Hassan and Pappas Announce More Than $3.2 Million in Federal Funding to Laconia School District to Prevent Youth Violence and Boost Mental Health Services

(Washington, DC) - U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the lead Democrat of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the Department of Justice, announced today with Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Congressman Chris Pappas (NH-01) that the Laconia School District will receive $3,212,500 in federal funding from the United States Departments of Justice and Education in support of efforts to reduce and prevent youth violence in the school system, bolster student and family engagement, and to better support school and community-based mental health services. Senator Hassan brought McKenzie Harrington-Bacote, Laconia School District’s Office of School Wellness Administrator, as her guest to the 2018 State of the Union to emphasize the importance of focusing on preventing substance misuse and addressing students’ behavioral health and wellness.

Of the amount awarded, $775,000 was awarded over three years through a Department of Justice initiative known as Project Safe Schools, while the Department of Education awarded $2,437,500 over five years through the Project Prevent program. Both programs provide grants to local school districts in support of efforts to address youth violence and victimization through the implementation of proven deterrence and mediation methods in schools and help provide affected students greater access to emotional and social support programs. The Laconia School District will use these funds to expand after-school programs for high school students, increase school-based mental health services offered onsite by Lakes Region Mental Health Center, convert the status of their existing family outreach social workers from part-time to full-time, and strengthen their partnerships with the Laconia Police Department and Family Resource Center. In 2018, Senator Hassan visited the Laconia School District, where she discussed the importance of the District’s innovative efforts to prevent substance misuse and address students’ behavioral health and wellness.

“Students should always feel safe when they’re in school. As our school systems look to bolster their programming to better support the mental and physical wellness of our students, it’s imperative that they have the necessary resources to respond to the needs of both kids and faculty to foster a healthy and safe learning environment,” said Senator Shaheen.  “I’m pleased that the Laconia School District received these federal funds and as a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I’ll continue to fight for resources that invest in the safety and well-being of New Hampshire schools.”

“As young people across our state deal with severe trauma resulting from the opioid crisis, it is especially critical that school districts like Laconia are finding innovative approaches to support at-risk students,” Senator Hassan said. “I am grateful for the important work that student wellness administrators like McKenzie Harrington-Bacote are doing to bolster mental health services in our schools, and I will continue fighting to ensure that students have the resources and support that they need to thrive.”

“No child or educator should feel unsafe when walking into their own classroom,” said Congressman Pappas. “These federal dollars will go a long way in allowing the Laconia School District to invest in evidence-based programs that support the physical and mental health of our students, ensuring we continue to foster a safe and welcoming environment for all of our children to learn and grow.”

“The Laconia School District is so excited to be the recipient of these federal grants, which will help us to improve student wellness by continuing to expand our supports and services for all of our students within our Multi-Tiered System of Support for Behavioral Health and Wellness,” said McKenzie Harrington-Bacote, Laconia School District’s Office of School Wellness Program Administrator. “It’s wonderful to have advocates like Senators Hassan and Shaheen, as well as Congressman Pappas, fighting in Washington to secure more resources to support student wellness in our schools.”