AUSTIN, Texas – The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health at The University of Texas at Austin has awarded the Harris County Department of Education (HCDE) the 2013 Ima Hogg Community Education Grant for Children’s Mental Health. The five-year, $97,000 grant will launch a broad training initiative to increase knowledge of children’s mental health among non-mental health professionals who work with children in Houston and Harris County.

HCDE’s Healthy Minds Healthy Children project will train 400 Head Start teachers and staffers to recognize children’s mental health issues and coach parents on ways to address their children’s mental health needs. The centerpiece of the program is the 12 hours of training participants will receive in the Child Parent Relationship Therapy model, an evidence-based intervention for children with a wide range of mental health conditions. HCDE will be partnering with the University of North Texas Center on Play Therapy and the National Alliance for Mental Illness to provide the training.

HCDE will receive $73,000 for the first two years of the grant period to complete the Healthy Minds Healthy Children program. The remaining funds will support the final three years, which include educational workshops for Head Start staff members and others at the Early Childhood Winter Conference, one of HCDE’s largest trainings. The workshops will feature various speakers on topics related to children’s mental health.

This grant is funded from the Varner-Bayou Bend Heritage Fund, which was established in 1963 by Ima Hogg to emphasize the importance of identifying and addressing childhood mental illness in its early stages. The fund supports mental health training for people in Houston and Harris County who work with children, such as primary care physicians, teachers, nurses, and after-school and day care providers.

“We are excited about Harris County Department of Education’s proposal to engage Head Start teachers and staff as a conduit to expand knowledge of children’s mental health,” said Vicky Coffee-Fletcher, program officer at the Hogg Foundation. “Children’s mental health was a cause near and dear to Miss Hogg, and it remains one of the Hogg Foundation’s key program areas.”

According to a recent report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 5 children and youths experiences a mental health condition at any given time, but 64 percent do not receive the help or treatment they require. Many people who work with children and youths on a daily basis are not equipped to identify the mental health needs of these young people.

“This Hogg grant addresses the great need for increased knowledge of children’s mental health on the part of the men and women who work with them every day,” said John E. Sawyer, Ed.D., superintendent of HCDE. “We are proud to have received this grant and are eager to get the Healthy Minds Healthy Children project off the ground.”

HCDE’s Area I Head Start serves more than 1,250 children ages 3 to 5 in east and northeast Harris County. Because of their socioeconomic situation, children participating in Head Start are especially vulnerable to behavioral and emotional challenges resulting from the stressors caused by poverty. Trained Head Start staffers can play a critical role in addressing mental health concerns now to alleviate challenges in the future.

The Hogg Foundation advances recovery and wellness in Texas by funding mental health services, policy analysis, research and public education. The foundation was created in 1940 by the children of former Texas Gov. James S. Hogg and is part of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin.