Personalized birdhouses are part of a memorial for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut December 14, 2013 . Today marks the one year anniversary of the shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 children and six adults were killed by gunman Adam Lanza. REUTERS/Michelle McLoughlin (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW SOCIETY)
NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — Newtown officials plan to ask the federal government for an $8 million grant for mental health counseling for hundreds of people affected by the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.
First Selectman E. Patricia Llodra announced Tuesday night that the town expects to submit an application Thursday to the U.S. Department of Justice for an 18-month grant, The News-Times of Danbury reported (http://bit.ly/1jGAtV2 ).
The money would be used to reimburse ongoing and new mental health counseling for nearly 400 people affected by the December 2012 fatal shootings of 20 first-graders and six educators. The grant would help people with longer-term counseling needs, including police officers and other first responders.
More than 250 families have been getting help paying for counseling from three local nonprofit groups — the Newtown Lions Club, the Newtown Rotary Club and the Newtown Memorial Fund. Those organizations and Newtown Youth and Family Services have been providing the aid through donations and fundraising efforts.
Mental health experts believe the Sandy Hook Elementary School population and the broader community will have ongoing counseling needs for at least 15 more years, Llodra said. But there isn't enough money in place to provide long-term help.
"This is about building a safety net of ongoing support for those in the mental health system, and to capture new people who have needs," she said.
Town leaders want to establish a "Recovery and Resiliency Team" that will provide counseling services. The team would include a clinical recovery director, two case workers, a project manager and a community outreach liaison.
A board of directors including town and school officials, clergy and health professionals would oversee the team.
"This is a very costly endeavor to create," Llodra said.
Information from: The News-Times, http://www.newstimes.com