The Community Foundation of New Jersey said it recently committed $70,000 toward the professional development of public school nurses in Morris and Sussex counties.
The funding comes as public school nurses continue to balance the physical and emotional health of students, families, colleagues and themselves amid another COVID-19 surge. Recent stress, anxiety and conflict around vaccinations has further exacerbated the pressure on school nurses.
The grant to the Mental Health Association of New Jersey will coordinate three interrelated 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 chief operating officer 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.”
“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.”