PHOENIX — The Arizona Department of Education is allocating millions of dollars to hire 140 counselors and social workers for schools.
Arizona State Superintendent Kathy Hoffman announced Monday that the department will direct $21.3 million to hire 69 social workers and 71 counselors at schools in 13 counties across the state. The money comes from Federal Relief Funds from the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I’ve heard clearly that the social/emotional services offered by our schools are critical to student's well-being," said Superintendent Hoffman. "Time and time again I hear from our students that they need, not want, but need more school counselors, social workers, and mental health professionals on school campuses to support their needs."
The money will fund and support the jobs for two years. After which, Superintendent Hoffman says she will call on the Arizona State Legislature to provide more funding to the School Safety Grant Program.
According to the American School Counselor Association, Arizona has the worst counselor to student ratio in the country at 905 students to every counselor. The recommended ratio is 250 to one. The national average is 430 to one.
“This pandemic has elevated the awareness and necessity of addressing our students’ social and emotional needs,” said Sarah Skemp, Chair of the Arizona School Counselor Association. “Now more than ever, it is vital that ALL students in Arizona have access to a school counselor."
Superintendent Hoffman hopes to fill those jobs by the start of the school year in the fall.