Newtown is getting a $7.1 million federal grant to fund new mental health services for those affected by the December, 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The grant, from the U.S. Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime, will pay for long-term mental health counseling for families, law enforcement and first responders. A portion of the funds will be set aside for school safety measures.
The funds will go to the Connecticut Office of Victim Services, which is part of the state Judicial branch. The money will then be dispersed to the town of Newtown, and other organizations that serve the community, including Newtown Youth and Family Services, St. Rose of Lima Church, the Newtown Resiliency Center, Wellmore and the United Way of Western Connecticut.
“This grant will provide much-needed relief and support for Newtown to help this brave community heal,” said U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, who announced the news Tuesday morning.
“The community of Newtown has faced unimaginable tragedy with incredible strength and resiliency. Survivors, families, law enforcement, and first responders deserve sustained counseling services and enhanced school safety resources, and I’m grateful to the Department of Justice for responding with continued support,” said Esty, whose district includes Newtown. “The leadership shown by First Selectman Pat Llodra, town officials, the courageous families, and community activists inspire us and the nation.”
Newtown Youth and Family Services has seen a rise in demand for mental health counseling in the aftermath of the shootings, said Executive Director Candice Bohr. “Since the tragedy, NYFS has increased its staffing capacity and has witness the client population quadruple in the last 18 months,” she said. “We anticipate seeing a continued need in services and funding related to mental health, and we are committed to providing the continued support the town, the school district, and the families of the community need.”
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy said the nation has a responsibility to help the people of Newtown recover. “But while this grant will go a long way to help the people of Newtown, they will continue to need our support in the coming months and years,” he said.
Last year, Newtown received a $1.5 million grant from the Office for Victims of Crime, and the Newtown Public School District received $3.2 million through the U.S. Department of Education’s School Emergency Response to Violence program.