The Department of Educational and School Psychology at the University of Southern Maine has been awarded a 5-year, $1.6 million grant sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education to help increase the number of school psychologists in rural areas of the state.
The project, Maine School Psychology: Collaborative Affiliations in Rural Education (Maine School Psychology CAREs), also aims to increase the number of credentialed school psychologists who reflect the diverse backgrounds of students within those communities.
“We are excited about the opportunity to collaborate with rural schools across the state in this endeavor, and we look forward to delivering a low residency specialist-level school psychology training program that is accessible to educators across the state,” said Jamie Pratt, chair of the Department of Educational and School Psychology at the University of Southern Maine.
School psychologists help design, implement, and monitor mental and behavioral health services within schools. However, the ratio of students-to-school psychologists in Maine far exceeds national recommendations: Maine averaged one school psychologist per 1,501 students last year compared to the recommended ratio of 1-to-500. The shortage is particularly acute in Maine’s rural, high-need schools.
“The Maine Department of Education Office of Special Services and Inclusive Education is working diligently to increase the number of school psychologists in Maine,” said Erin Frazier, Director of Special Services Birth to 22 at the Maine Department of Education. “This work is crucial, especially to support our rural areas. Given the lack of school psychologists in remote areas of Maine, many of our students and families must travel great distances and wait for long periods of time to access these services. The CAREs project will begin to remediate this issue and support expansion of access to school psychologists in Maine.”
The Maine School Psychology CAREs project will offer tuition reimbursement and stipends to support 22 graduate students for state credentialing as school psychologists. In partnership with the Maine Department of Education and the Maine Association of School Psychologists, the Department of Educational and School Psychology at the University of Southern Maine will:
- Develop and implement a low residency, specialist-level school psychology training program designed for current educators in rural Maine;
- Enhance school psychology students’ training in comprehensive, culturally responsive school-based mental and behavioral health services;
- Coordinate opportunities for school psychology graduate students to complete field-based training and deliver comprehensive mental and behavioral health services in rural, high-need schools across the state; and
- Facilitate professional support systems and trainings to promote effective school psychology practice in rural schools.
“The Maine Association of School Psychologists (MASP) recognizes the critical shortage of school psychologists in Maine and nationally. The high ratio of students to school psychologists directly affects the well-being of PK-12th grade students and schools. Addressing this shortage and fostering mental and behavioral health have and continues to be two of our association’s strategic goals,” said Lisa Backman, President of the Maine Association of School Psychologists. “MASP supported USM in their pursuit of the Maine School Psychology CAREs grant that will assist graduate students and practitioners committed to advancing the mental health of the school-aged population in rural, high-need Maine schools. We look forward to future collaboration and supporting the growth of Maine’s school psychology profession.”
This grant will allow USM to continue its many efforts to help Maine schools and students by providing school workforce development, comprehensive and supportive educator training, and professional preparation focused on student needs. Anyone interested in learning more about the Maine School Psychology CAREs project is encouraged to contact Pratt at firstname.lastname@example.org.