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Survey Explores Parents’ Mindsets During School Year 2022-2023

 The tax credit program funds scholarships for students at private and parochial schools.

A new survey finds that parents are concerned about their children's emotional and mental health and want schools to provide services to support them.

Marie Merkel - State President of the Pennsylvania Parent Teacher Association - said she was surprised that parents have difficulty finding existing mental health support in schools, and adds there are different levels of mental health problems and some schools do offer resources and services to address it.

"Schools do focus a lot on mental health and mental well-being," said Merkel. "So I think maybe if the children need extra help, I think that's what the parents are a little concerned about. And they don't know what's going on in the school. So that may be part of it. They may not know that they're getting as much as they have in the schools."

The survey says less than four-in-10 parents know whom to ask if their child needs mental health support at school, and a majority believe mental health support offered by their child's school has remained unchanged or decreased compared to before the pandemic.

The survey shows 82% of parents' feel comfortable with having their child attend school in person, but that is uneven across key subgroups, especially among parents of color.

Merkel emphasized that parents' comfort level may vary depending on how well children were learning online and whether the transition back to school was smooth.

She noted that online learning was a challenge in some school districts due to inconsistent internet access.

"Maybe they did not have the amount of engagement with the students," said Merkel. "And that could depend on the type of school district they came from, if it was, you know, everybody had access to the technology and things like that. And I know, in my State of Pennsylvania, we're the third largest rural state in the nation, broadband was a problem."

Seventy-six percent of parents surveyed said it is important for their child's school to teach social skills like respect, cooperation, perseverance, and empathy.

Merkel added that she has seen that children's behaviors are improving, but there are still a few things that they're still struggling with such as basic skills and sometimes socialization.