Children’s Hospital New Orleans’ ThriveKids Program will Provide Mental Health Services for NOLA Public Schools with $10M in Funding from City of New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS (press release) – For the 2023-2024 school year, NOLA Public Schools and Children’s Hospital New Orleans’ ThriveKids Student Wellness Program will partner to bring health services directly to kids in schools to address the mental and physical well-being of children.

This partnership, which was made possible with support from the City of New Orleans and New Orleans Health Department, will have a significant impact on the mental health challenges and violence that are affecting young people, and their ability to succeed at school.

“United in our efforts, we will strive to provide equitable resources, care and expertise to children, dismantling barriers that hinder positive academic outcomes,” expressed Dr. Avis Williams, superintendent for NOLA Public Schools. “By fostering collaboration between our educational and healthcare communities, our goal is to make significant strides in addressing the physical and mental well-being of our scholars. In these challenging times, our babies urgently require this transformative action.”

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Funding for the partnership comes from American Rescue Plan dollars that the City of New Orleans received to provide direct relief for people post COVID-19 pandemic. It is structured over an initial three years, with a commitment for long-term programmatic support.

“The collaboration with ThriveKids received overwhelming support across City leaders, including the New Orleans Health Department and City Council,” said New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “Together, we will provide a foundation to launch a long-term system of care, providing immediate resources for kids when they need help, oftentimes when concerns may go untreated or unnoticed.”

Functioning like a student health department, this partnership will proactively work to improve pediatric outcomes – mentally, medically and academically. Children’s Hospital’s ThriveKids program will provide a multidisciplinary team of more than 30 mental health and medical experts who will work across NOLA Public Schools to provide a combination of direct clinical services and care management. All students are eligible to benefit from the program, while high-need target schools will receive intensive services.

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“It is hard to be a kid today. Mental illness and the demand for psychological services are at all-time highs,” said Lucio Fragoso, president and CEO of Children’s Hospital New Orleans. “Our children are facing violence, depression, anxiety, food and housing insecurity – and other challenges. And we cannot expect teachers, school nurses and counselors to do it alone – they cannot be expected to do everything for every child. ThriveKids is here to stand in that gap.”

The partnership will begin in the 2023-2024 school year, and will create a long-term, centralized system of support for students across the 76 NOLA Public Schools campuses. Care management teams will work to remove barriers to care, while coordinating the resources and follow-up support kids need. ThriveKids and NOLA Public Schools will also work together to measure progress of the initiative, with reportable data demonstrating success.

“This partnership is monumental for the students of New Orleans. We are seeking to provide the resources necessary to ensure that every child–especially those who are victims of poverty–receive the support they need,” said Olin Parker, president of the Orleans Parish School Board. “Connecting students with essential care and resources will empower them to attend school every day, reach their full academic potential, and thrive both as young adults and throughout their lives.”

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