Lompoc Unified School District, along with a pair of partnering agencies, was recently awarded more than $1 million in grant funds to be used for mental health resources.

LUSD joined with the Family Service Agency (FSA) and the Council of Alcohol and Drug Abuse (CADA) to apply for a pair of grants from the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Mental health was identified by the district as an area of concern after district leaders reviewed data collected in the California Healthy Kids Survey, which found concerns about depression, as well as harassment, fighting and drug use, according to LUSD.

The grant money, according to the district, will be used to provide mental health counseling for students in fifth through eighth grades in schools with a high level of exposure to violence. The district reports that the funds also will be used to provide mental health consultation for teachers to support children’s social and emotional development and to address challenging behaviors in the classroom. In addition, the money will fund a program for families at middle schools in an effort to enhance child development and reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect.

It also will help pay for a part-time school resource officer at Lompoc Valley Middle School, according to LUSD.

“We are grateful for CADA and FSA’s willingness to partner with us and are excited for the opportunities this grant brings,” LUSD Superintendent Trevor McDonald said.

Added Brian Jaramillo, the district’s director of pupil support services: “Safety is of paramount concern for our students and staff. This grant will help us provide teachers tools to address these concerns.”