October 7, 2016 — The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Healthy Students today awarded Flint Community Schools in Flint, Michigan a Project School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) grant totaling $480,000. The grant will be used to restore the learning environment following the water crisis that began in 2014 that left residents with lead-contaminated drinking water.
The crisis has disrupted the education of thousands of students as well as their parents, teachers, administrators, and support personnel. And it has placed increased demands on Flint’s schools that educate and support the children of Flint.
“Helping the people of Flint recover from this water crisis is our collective responsibility,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “This Project SERV grant will help the students and educators foster a nurturing school environment. We want those impacted to receive the supports they need to work through this difficult situation.”
Project SERV provides funding for local educational agencies and institutions of higher education that have experienced a significant violent or traumatic event and need resources to respond, recover, and re-establish a safe environment conducive to learning. There are two types of Project SERV awards—Immediate Services and Extended Services. Immediate Services grants, one of which was awarded to Flint Community Schools, provide emergency, short-term assistance to affected school districts or colleges and universities. Extended Services grants assist school districts and colleges and universities in carrying out the long-term recovery efforts that may be needed following a significant, traumatic event. To date, the Office of Safe and Healthy Students has awarded nearly $44 million to 140 grantees, including Flint Community Schools, since the grants program began in 2001.
Flint Community Schools has faced significant challenges as a result of the city-wide water crisis that has impacted nearly every facet of the community. Many families have left the community. Students whose families stayed have been dealing with many challenges associated with having contaminated water—preparing meals, bathing, washing clothes, and more. Flint Community Schools have felt that impact in areas ranging from attendance to discipline to social work services.
The district, in partnership with the community and state, is working to provide continued supports and resources for students, families, and community members—with a central focus on improving schools while delivering high-quality and effective teaching and learning. It will use its Project SERV grant to hire four assistant attendance specialists, who will identify and support students who are repeatedly absent. The attendance specialists will make home visits to assess the family environment and to collaborate with school staff to develop interventions and customized educational plans for truant students.
The district also will hire three responsive service school counselors and two school psychologists to address the mental health needs of its students. Staff in these positions will help design, develop, implement and evaluate a comprehensive, developmental and systematic Responsive Service School Counseling program. In addition three additional speech therapists will be hired to handle the increase in special education referrals and requests for testing from parents.
President Obama and the Administration are supporting efforts in Flint to assist those affected by contaminated water. The President issued an emergency declaration for the state of Michigan and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is the lead federal agency responsible for coordinating federal support for response and recovery efforts in Flint. Other federal agencies are also pitching in to assist the citizens of Flint. Some of those efforts are listed below. A complete list of federal efforts can be found here.
Administration Supported Efforts in Flint
- The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) expanded Medicaid coverage for children up to age 21 and for pregnant women impacted by lead exposure. Thousands of additional children and pregnant women became eligible for Medicaid coverage, and 30,000 current Medicaid beneficiaries in the area became eligible for expanded services. In addition, CMS awarded $300,000 to the Greater Flint Health Coalition to support and coordinate outreach and enrollment efforts to get more eligible children enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and to help connect children to available resources.
- In January 2016, USDA approved the Michigan Department of Education’s (MDE) request for additional funds totaling $62,700 through the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, which provides fresh fruits and vegetables at no cost to students in eligible schools. These funds, along with practical technical assistance on menu planning strategies, are designed to aid schools in identifying and incorporating more foods high in vitamin C, calcium, and iron that may help reduce lead levels in the body. In August 2016, USDA approved MDE’s request for additional FFVP funds in the amount of $158,750 for immediate expansion of the FFVP in Flint, which will be used to provide grants to all eligible Genesse County schools that applied and qualified for SY 2016-17 FFVP funds.
- USDA is promoting access to healthy school lunches by encouraging all eligible Flint Community Schools and other Flint-area schools to consider participating in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). The CEP ensures access to free school meals for all children enrolled in a school. In the affected Flint area, at least 28 schools, serving over 144,000 students, are eligible to adopt this provision. USDA is working in collaboration with the state of Michigan to help as many eligible schools as possible adopt the provision. This provision targets high-poverty schools and has proven successful in ensuring more kids benefit from nutritious school meals.
- HHS and its family of agencies, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Environmental Protection Agency, the Small Business Administration (SBA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provided bottled water, water filters and other necessary related items to help. FEMA provided more than 26.9 million liters of water to the state for distribution, 50,000 water and pitcher filters, and more than 243,800 filter replacement cartridges. HUD worked with the Flint Housing Commission to ensure 100 percent installation as well as future upkeep of water filters in every unit of public housing and in HUD’s federally assisted and HUD-insured properties. In addition, HUD worked with local partners to ensure that water was delivered to seniors and disabled residents in public housing.
- EPA continues to monitor restoration of the city’s water system.
- The U.S. Department of Transportation provided more than $500,000 to help increase transportation services for older adults to non-emergency medical care as well as to health, wellness, and prevention activities such as recreation centers, parks, and farmers markets.
- Experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry gathered water and blood lead level data, going back before the water crisis began, to estimate the severity of the problem. The U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps cleared a backlog of approximately 800 blood lead level screening results and prepared test result notifications for parents and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
- The Administration for Children and Families provided guidance to the state on the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, with the goal of helping families in the program access bottled water, gas cards, and bus passes to reach water distribution sites or healthcare facilities.
- One-time emergency funding of $3.5 million helped Head Start grantees expand early childhood education, behavioral health services, health services and nutrition services for children in most affected areas of Flint.
- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) awarded Michigan a $475,194 SAMHSA Emergency Response Grant (SERG) to help provide behavioral health and other support services to people affected by the water crisis. The SERG grant funds services such as specialized outreach, crisis counseling, emergency case management and coordinated health care programs.
- The U.S. Department of Labor provided a National Dislocated Worker Grant for up to $15 million to assist with humanitarian and recovery efforts. The $7.5 million released initially is providing temporary employment for eligible individuals to assist with recovery work, as well as offer career and training services to help them find permanent work.
- The Department of Transportation awarded more than $12.8 million to Flint to help the Flint Mass Transportation Authority purchase Compressed Natural Gas transit buses and to create a workforce development training program for mechanics and drivers. In addition, through the department’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program, Flint received an additional $20 million for reconstruction of major thoroughfares to help create bike lanes, sidewalks, and traffic signals at the same time as underlying water transmission lines are replaced.
- HUD’s $500,000 Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant to Flint is aiding the city and the Flint Housing Commission in revamping the Atherton East public housing development and surrounding areas. HUD also allowed $325,000 of an existing lead-paint hazard grant for public housing in Flint to be applied to this crisis.
- With a FEMA Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant of $3.7 million, Flint can restore 33 firefighter positions in the city.
- An Economic Development Administration $1.9 million investment is supporting Phase II of Kettering University’s Automotive Research Area, a 19-acre state-of-the-art automotive research facility and testing grounds. The investment will strengthen the local community and will improve Kettering University’s already highly recognized experientially based engineering programs that support the area’s automobile industry.
- The University of Michigan Flint receive a $400,000 University Center Grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce to coordinate, inform, and contribute to economic development efforts that cultivate innovation and advance high-growth entrepreneurship needed to build and sustain a diversified economy throughout the region. The University Center will provide services to a seven-county region (Genesee, Huron, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Shiawassee and Tuscola counties).
- The Flint Genesee Chamber of Commerce and the Genesee Area Focus Fund, in partnership with the City of Flint, received a $197,416 Economic Adjustment Assistance grant to conduct a feasibility study for a business accelerator at Flint’s largest Brownfield site known locally as Buick City (Racer Trust site). The study will provide the city and its strategic partners with critical capacity building to support the redevelopment of Buick City.
- The Small Business Administration (SBA) provided approximately $400,000 in additional funding through a number of programs including $100,000 in Microloan capital, an additional $100,000 available for training and technical assistance to Flint entrepreneurs, $100,000 increase in existing technical assistance for small businesses in the area, and $100,000 in supplemental funding to the Kettering University Small Business Development Corporation. SBA also approved a state request for low-interest disaster loans for small businesses within the greater Flint area.
To view a list of Project SERV grantees and award amounts, or to learn more about the program, visit http://www2.ed.gov/programs/dvppserv/index.html.
(Courtesy: U.S. Department of Education Office of Communications & Outreach, Press Office)