Mike Ryder, Chief School Administrator for Hardyston schools, announced on March 15 that Tri-County Behavioral Care counselors will provide free counseling sessions for any student grades kindergarten through eighth grade.
Ryder said Tri-County Behavioral Care counselors, whose office is located in Sparta, will be available at the Hardyston Schools twice a week. The parents’ and staff can refer their children or students for counseling. The parents’ do not need to submit insurance. The parents’ only requirement is to sign a consent form in order for their child to receive counseling.
Ryder said that all costs will be paid for by the Hardyston School District. Hardyston Schools will be using part of the ARP ESSER funds to cover the entire cost of the services. The ARP ESSER fund is the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Act. This Act was passed in 2021 to assist school districts to safely reopen schools, and to ensure safe practices to keep staff and students’ safe while attending school during the coronavirus pandemic.
Ryder said “parents have told the staff that it has been difficult to find counselors/therapists for their children during the pandemic, so having one at the school is a gift.” The counseling will be done during school hours.
“Schools across New Jersey have reported an increase in student misbehavior this year as we begin to emerge from the pandemic,” Ryder said.
Teachers aren’t sure what is causing the misconduct, but it can possibly be due to the lack of social continuity, or lack of exposure to consistent social norms during the past two years.
“Whatever the cause, the truth is that students are struggling socially and academically, and we will do everything possible to help our young learners,” Ryder said.
Ryder announced at the April Board of Ed meeting that 20 students are signed up to receive counseling. There will be two therapists. One therapist will be at the elementary school and one counselor will be at the middle school. Each counselor will attend the schools twice a week.
The counseling sessions will begin after the spring break which will be the week of April 25.