Redwood City, CA — The San Mateo County Office of Education (SMCOE), in partnership with San Mateo County’s Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS) and 12 school districts, received a $6.0 million grant over four years from the state’s Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission to build the capacity of schools to provide mental health supports to their students.

Funded with resources allocated in the Mental Health Student Service Act, the grant will address student stress and trauma through social-emotional learning and resiliency building programs in 12 local school districts and specialized school-site behavioral health services in four school districts.

The 12 school districts, which include Bayshore Elementary, Burlingame, Cabrillo Unified, Hillsborough City, Jefferson Elementary, Jefferson Union High, Pacifica, Ravenswood City, San Bruno Park, San Carlos, San Mateo-Foster City, and Sequoia Union High, will receive evidence-based social emotional curriculum designed to strengthen school climate and improve student success. Those same districts will also receive trauma-informed, resiliency-focused training to improve staff well-being and their ability to serve students. The goal is to provide immediate support to all 12 districts, while also building capacity to continue the interventions after the grant has expired.

The grant will also support specialized school-site behavioral health services in four school districts that have few resources and face significant barriers in supporting mental health services for their students. These services will include a universal screener to assess the mental health needs of all students, culturally and racially responsive social-emotional learning curriculum, and on-site behavioral health supports and care coordination for those needing services outside of school hours.  The goal is to recognize symptoms early and proactively support students before symptoms become more chronic. SMCOE and its partners will document what they learn from the pilot districts, continue to seek additional grant funding, and promote successful strategies with all districts countywide.

Due to San Mateo County’s high cost of living, many families struggle to meet their basic needs, causing considerable stress on students and their families. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated this situation, making it harder on families financially and more difficult for them to access mental health support and care. The grant will provide schools with tools, training, and support they can use to help meet these needs.

“Early identification and intervention are critical to supporting students’ mental health needs. This grant and our partnership with Behavioral Health and Recovery Services will help us assist schools in becoming better at identifying students who may be struggling and then providing needed support or referring families to organizations that can provide support,” explained San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools Nancy Magee. “With COVID-19 compounding the stress that students are experiencing, this grant comes at an important time.”

“I see firsthand the value of providing evidence-based early intervention programs to support the mental wellness of children, youth, and families,” said Ziomara Ochoa, Deputy Director Child and Youth Services, Behavioral Health and Recovery Services. “Convenient access to quality care and support plays an important role in the ability to detect and address mental health conditions early on.  We are excited to be partnering with the San Mateo County Office of Education to provide these much-needed services for students, and especially those from households with limited financial resources."


 The San Mateo County Office of Education is committed to ensuring excellence and equity in education by inspiring students, investing in teachers, invigorating leaders, and involving communities.