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Federal Grants to Establish or Expand School Counseling Programs

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The U.S. Department of Education has awarded $14.7 million in grants to establish or expand school counseling programs at 40 school districts in 20 states, the federal agency announced Thursday.

The grants aim to expand the range, quality, and availability of counseling services in elementary and secondary schools, and programs will be designed with input from parents of students who will benefit from the programs, the Education Department said in a news release. 

"Grantees also will use funds to help increase the number of available and qualified counselors based on a school's student population," the news release said. "Research shows that having adequate counseling services can help reduce the number of disciplinary referrals in schools, improve student attendance and academic performance, and enhance development of social skills. Funds also may be used to support parental involvement, counselor and teacher professional development, and collaboration with community-based organizations that provide mental health and other services to students."

As Education Week has reported, the American Counseling Association and other national groups have called for more counselors in schoolsThe organization has been pushing for federal funding to hire more school counselors, in part to promote school safety.

In the 2011-12 school year, there was one school counselor for every 470 students in the United States, representatives told me in April. The counseling association is calling for passage of the Student Support Act, sponsored by Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif. The bill would providing federal matching grants to states to lower the ratio to one counselor for every 250 students.

The Education Department has listed more information about the winning grantees on its website.

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