Breadcrumb Trail Links Local News ‘This program will be able to meet these students where they are, with one-stop counselling in the school’ Byron Chan and Jessica Cope Williams, co-CEOs of Kindred Connection Society pose in the company office in downtown Calgary on Thursday, January 26, 2023. CBE is partnering with Kindred Connection Society, a community agency that will send 12 counsellors into schools to help kids that faced trauma in their homeland. Jim Wells/Postmedia Article content Facing a huge influx of immigrant students, public schools are partnering with a family service agency to help those kids with overwhelming mental health issues like trauma and loss. Advertisement 2 This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below. Article content The Calgary Board of Education and Kindred Connections Society will place up to 12 counsellors in targeted schools over the next several months thanks to $2.4 million over two years from Alberta Education’s mental health pilot project. Sign up to receive daily headline news from the Calgary Herald, a division of Postmedia Network Inc. By clicking on the sign up button you consent to receive the above newsletter from Postmedia Network Inc. You may unsubscribe any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link at the bottom of our emails or any newsletter. Postmedia Network Inc. | 365 Bloor Street East, Toronto, Ontario, M4W 3L4 | 416-383-2300 Thanks for signing up! A welcome email is on its way. If you don’t see it, please check your junk folder. The next issue of Calgary Herald Headline News will soon be in your inbox. We encountered an issue signing you up. Please try again Article content “Many of these students are facing different kinds of trauma,” said Jessica Cope Williams, co-CEO at Kindred Connections Society. Some have experienced the profound shock and trauma of war and violence in their home countries, Williams explained, while others are struggling with the devastating loss of family, friends and much of what they held dear in their former lives. “This program will be able to meet these students where they are, with one-stop counselling in the school. So if they’re having a bad day, where they say ‘I am not okay,’ we can sit down with them that same day.” Advertisement 3 This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below. Article content Three-pronged approach to supporting students One-on-one counselling sessions will be the first of a three-pronged approach in targeted schools with high numbers of immigrants and refugee students, Williams added. Kindred will also work to point students and their families to additional services in the community that they can access over a longer term. “This is especially important for those students who have experienced trauma in their home countries, or even in their early days in Canada,” Williams said. “We know a longer-term service might also be important for them, and we can identify exactly what is most beneficial.” The third approach will include ongoing training and development sessions for parents, family members and teachers connected to immigrant students, so that when the two-year pilot is over, staff in schools are more empowered to identify and support students’ needs. Advertisement 4 This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below. Article content Help needed for increase in refugee students After a flood of newcomers to Calgary this year, the CBE now has 5,254 non-Canadian students, including 828 refugees, and 1,021 Ukrainian students who have fled here since the Russian invasion began in February 2022. CBE officials also said local resettlement agencies have told them to expect another large influx of Ukrainian families in April, adding that immigration levels are expected to continue to be strong moving forward. “This is a population that is experiencing a significant area of growth, it’s an area of significant need. So we want to dedicate staff who are specially-trained in trauma-informed services, to help students and give them immediate access to a counsellor,” said Andrea Holowka, CBE superintendent school improvement. Advertisement 5 This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below. Article content “We will provide those one-off sessions that can really help students in the moment, but also help them and their families to better connect with services in the community.” Alberta Education announces mental health supports without addressing causes Standardized test scores drop provincewide since COVID Graduation rates down in Calgary, below provincial average after pandemic disruptions: CBE Special education ‘in crisis’ as CBE faces $47-million deficit for vulnerable students Holowka explained connecting families to services is especially critical to students whose parents face language barriers or just a lack of knowledge around how government supports or local help agencies can be accessed. Advertisement 6 This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below. Article content Most of the Kindred counsellors that will support students and train staff will be new hires at the CBE, Holowka added. “We are just working through that process right now, and then we’ll start to place those counsellors in different schools.” Mental health supports needed in schools: province Education Minister Adriana LaGrange announced up to $40 million in funding for the mental health pilot projects late last fall, allowing Alberta school boards to apply for grant money. School authorities across the province were told to collaborate with mental health service providers in their communities to address their highest needs and carry out the projects until December 2024. The projects are to explore innovative approaches to providing supports and services including counselling, social and emotional learning, student assessment and training for school staff. Advertisement 7 This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below. Article content Alberta Education said the pilots have been created because mental health supports are needed in schools now more than ever. “We have heard, first-hand, from parents, teachers and other school staff, that learning disruptions and temporary school closures over the course of the past couple of years have impacted the mental health and wellness of many Alberta students, if not all, in one form or another,” said Emily Peckham, press secretary to the education minister. “Each of these projects is unique because they are designed according to locally identified needs, taking into account the background of students, and then finding suitable services and supports already available within the community.” firstname.lastname@example.org Share this article in your social network Advertisement 1 This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below. 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