Investing in school nurses, in the middle of a pandemic is an inspired idea that I hope is replicated and scaled across the country. The Community Foundation of New Jersey contacted the Mental Health Association in New Jersey seeking ideas to support school nurses in two New Jersey counties.
I have had the privilege of working side by side with the Mental Health Association in New Jersey on several initiatives over the past five years, including the weekly support groups that I have been running for school nurses during the pandemic. Together, we brainstormed ideas that would contribute to the well being of the school nurses, enrich their learning experiences and show that their extraordinary efforts are acknowledged and appreciated.
This is what Investing in school nurses will look like for full-time certified school nurses who work in Sussex and Morris Counties:
- Conference fees will be paid for the New Jersey State School Nurses Association (NJSSNA) Spring 2022 Conference
- Membership in the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) and NJSSNA will be paid for one year
- Weekly virtual support groups
- Two high-level professional development seminars
School nurses democratize healthcare for our most vulnerable students and families. Investing in school nurses will surely benefit the children, families, and school communities they serve. What better time than now, in the long slog of the pandemic, to show school nurses that they are valued and respected.
Hopefully, this gem of an idea will spark other foundations to offer similar programs for school nurses across the country. The Community Foundation of New Jersey should be commended for its forward-thinking generosity and commitment to school nurses.
Here is the official announcement:
Here is the official announcement:
The Community Foundation of New Jersey today announced it has committed $70,000 toward the professional development of public school nurses in Morris and Sussex counties. This comes as public school nurses continue to balance the physical and emotional health of students, families, colleagues, and themselves amidst another COVID-19 surge. Recent stress, anxiety, and conflict around vaccinations has further exacerbated the pressure on school nurses.
The funding will be in the form of a grant to the Mental Health Association of New Jersey, which will coordinate three inter-related programs. A weekly virtual support/educational group designed and facilitated by experienced school nurses in New Jersey will provide opportunities for self-care, discussion, mutual support, and referral to additional services. Two conferences will address issues raised in the weekly support groups, with deeper conversation and additional opportunities for networking and mutual support. And finally, funding will be available for school nurses to join national, state, and local membership organizations, and to attend the annual state school nurse conference.
“This combination of programming and services provides a network of support that does not currently exist for school nurses, all of whom are grappling with added stress,” said Robert Kley, Vice President and COO of the Mental Health Association in New Jersey. “These opportunities for long-term self-care, emotional support, and education can help increase strength and resiliency among the school nurse workforce.”
National surveys have shown that nearly three-quarters of school nurses report increased anxiety, depression, and declines in their own personal health tied to their work in schools over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional responsibility around COVID-19 testing and tracing has resulted in more communication with families and the community, as well as more conflict around issues such as vaccinations and quarantining.
“Nurses working in our public school system have an increasingly important and stressful role,” said Madeline Rivera, Program Officer at the Community Foundation of New Jersey. “As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, school nurses must balance pressing needs caused by the pandemic with other challenges, such as concerns over increases in youth suicide, the opioid epidemic, a relative lack of behavioral health services, and uneven parental engagement. Ensuring our school nurses are themselves supported is critical to the broader health of the school systems.”
The program will partner with the Morris and Sussex County School Nurses Association and the New Jersey School Nurses Association to reach the school nurses in 198 public schools in Morris and Sussex counties.Those interested in joining in support of the initiative may contact Madeline Rivera, Program Officer at the Community Foundation of New Jersey, at email@example.com.
About the Community Foundation of New Jersey
With $800 million in assets, the Community Foundation of New Jersey creates and scales custom solutions for purpose-driven individuals, families, and businesses. The level of precision in CFNJ’s investment and grantmaking capabilities is made possible by a team of specialists who understand the unique contours of communities and can manage the scope of CFNJ’s giving vehicles. From creative projects that tackle critical societal or policy issues to scholarship funds, corporate philanthropy, legacy funds and donor advised funds, CFNJ manages nearly every giving vehicle and tailors solutions to meet critical needs. More than 1,100 funds grant tens of millions of dollars each year, including $100 million in 2021 in New Jersey and beyond.
About the Mental Health Association in New Jersey
The Mental Health Association in New Jersey is a statewide non-profit organization that strives for children and adults to achieve victory over mental health and substance use disorders through advocacy, education, training, and services. It is headquartered in Union County, with additional offices in Atlantic, Hudson and Ocean Counties and affiliates in Essex, Monmouth, Morris, Passaic Counties. For more information visit https://www.mhanj.org/