Aug. 10-A federal grant of $1 million is set to equip law enforcement officers and school officials to assist Haywood County children and youth going through trauma and mental health crises.
The grant was awarded to the Thirtieth Judicial District Domestic Violence Sexual Assault Alliance, also known as the 30th Alliance, which will collaborate with Haywood County Schools and Haywood County Sheriff's Office on how to assist youth who are victims of assault, bullying or who may live in homes with domestic violence.
Emily Pulley, project lead for the grant's implementation, said plans for implementing the three-year grant are still under development, but will include training initiatives for the Sheriff's Office and schools in Haywood County.
"A stronger network is a safer network, and that means fewer kids falling through the cracks," Pulley said.
The Alliance will provide licensed mental health staff, including a bilingual therapist, for the school and law enforcement collaboration.
"The money goes to the judicial alliance, who we have partnered with several times in the past. We're looking at strengthening the skills of our current staff," said Bill Nolte, superintendent of Haywood County Schools.
Nolte said principals for each Haywood County school will meet with staff to discuss who can benefit from the training and go from there.
Pulley said the training would be tailored to increase support around mental health for a directed response to youths in crisis situations.
Haywood County Sheriff's office will also receive training through the grant awarded to Alliance.
"We want to be equipped with the best response mechanisms we can. Our responses are often focused on de-escalation and active listening," said Jeff Haines, chief deputy with the Haywood County Sheriff's Office.
The grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice for the Preventing School Violence initiative, is one of three awarded across the state and one of 78 throughout the U.S.
"We feel the strength of our application was in our strong collaborative team within our own county, the work being done to date with youth in trauma, and the continued commitment of all of our collaborative partners to find ways to connect with our youth," said Lynn Carlson, executive director of the Alliance.