Posted on July 17, 2003
WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Bill Frist (R-TN) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) today announced that the Johnson County Department of Education has been awarded $541,200 through the U.S. Department of Education to establish childhood development programs and measures to address substance abuse and violence in schools. "There are nearly 44 million Americans affected by mental illness and nearly 17 million Americans with substance abuse and addiction problems. Unfortunately, most of these people are not receiving the treatment they need," said Frist. "By addressing issues of substance abuse and violence in schools early on, we can ensure that young people have the support and help that they need. This funding will go a long way in the creation of collaborative childhood development programs for Johnson County schools to give Tennessee students help in handling the everyday pressures of life." "This is an important investment to protect our children in Northeast Tennessee," Alexander said. "Early intervention programs provide treatment and counseling and are vital to those students who are grappling with these tough situations at very young ages." Based on a collaborative effort through the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services and Justice, the program provides students, schools and communities the resources to develop comprehensive programs that encourage healthy childhood development and prevent violence and alcohol and drug abuse. The initiative, entitled the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative, is based on evidence that a comprehensive, integrated community wide approach is the most effective way to promote child development and address problems associated with school violence and substance abuse. The funding can be used for a variety of measures including safety in schools; prevention and early intervention programs for alcohol and drug use; measures to address school violence; school and community mental health programs; and early childhood psychosocial and emotional development initiatives. As members of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Frist and Alexander will be involved in this year's reauthorization of the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which supports prevention programs for substance abuse and mental health. According to the 2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, almost 5 million youths aged 12 to 17 (21 percent) had used an illicit drug in the past year and about 10.1 million persons aged 12 to 20 used alcohol in the past month. More than 6 million children lived with at least one parent who abused or was dependent on alcohol or an illicit drug.