Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education) is a five-year grant that was awarded to the Virginia Department of Education in October of 2014 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The project’s ultimate purpose is to advance wellness and resilience in education for youth and families by improving access to mental health prevention supports, connecting children and youth with behavioral health issues to needed services, and increasing mental health literacy through training and promotion.
Project AWARE is partnering with three (3) pilot divisions, Fairfax, Montgomery and Pulaski, in approaching the social, emotional, and behavioral (SEB) goals of this project through within the Virginia Tiered Systems of Supports (VTSS) framework (nationally, it is known as the multi-tiered system of support MTSS)/positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) framework). This framework assumes that school-based SEB programs, services, and supports are comprehensive and provide a full array of services across a continuum of tiered supports.
- Public school systems in Fairfax County, Montgomery County and Pulaski County
- Virginia Tiered System of Supports at the Virginia Department of Education
- Center for School-Community Collaboration within the VCU School of Education
- School Health and Safety Interagency Collaborative State Management Team
- School Climate Transformation Grant Team and PBIS Center
- National Alliance on Mental Illness of Virginia
- Voices for Virginia’s Children
- Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice
- Virginia Department of Social Services, Office of Children’s Services and Foster Care
- Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services’ Maternal and Child Health
- Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services
Local Education Agencies (LEAs)
The Virginia Project AWARE initiative is being piloted in the Fairfax, Montgomery and Pulaski local education agencies (LEAs) during the five year grant period. While each school division has it’s own unique Project AWARE aspects, all three initiatives are aligned to the overarching state project.
Fairfax County Public Schools is expanding the application of the multi-tiered system of support framework to include mental health and wellness to complement the existing work in the areas of academics and behavior. The primary focus is on increasing the emotional literacy and mental health and wellness knowledge for all school staff and students. Five high schools are directly involved with this work, the schools are Centreville, Fairfax, Falls Church, South Lakes, and West Potomac.
Montgomery County Public Schools strive to engage, encourage and empower all students through a tiered systems framework. Project AWARE supports and interventions are available to meet the academic, behavioral and mental health needs of all students. Student Assistance Program (SAP) teams work collaboratively with school and community resources to review data, make recommendations for intervention services and monitor progress of students to help them be successful in school and in life.
Pulaski County Public Schools’ Project AWARE goal is to advance educational effectiveness through connecting Virginia Tiered System of Supports, Student Assistance Programming, and Youth Mental Health First Aid. We are using this decision-making framework to help us reach each child. Children and families will see an increase in universal supports for all students, earlier identification of needs, streamlined process to access assistance, and more resources as needs are identified.