Every day, Emily Herring meets with troubled kids: a boy who was tossed out of class after an angry outburst, a child whose parent died of COVID-19, another who is afraid of infecting her live-in grandparents. Sometimes she sits down with kids who just need to talk.
Herring is one of 101 mental health service coordinators who are building a pilot program in Alabama public schools that launched in October 2020. She and an intern provide services to 1,600 kids from kindergarten through high school in four Fairfield City schools. Sitting about 10 minutes’ drive outside of Birmingham, Fairfield City is a low-income minority district where students face violence and other challenges that are now compounded by the pandemic, she says.