“Parents such as Monica Alba agree that boosting counselor staffing is key. Through the parent group Community Organizing and Family Issues, Alba has been involved in advocacy to mandate lower counselor ratios across Illinois.
When her son was in fifth grade three years ago, Alba met with his principal over concerns about disruptive behavior. At an elementary school where a counselor serves more than 400 students, Alba’s son only got to meet with that counselor twice, Alba says. She felt he needed more help and enlisted a private therapist through a community-based organization.
Alba says she really saw improvement when, on the cusp of the pandemic, her son moved to a school with much lower counselor caseloads. There, his counselor connected with the therapist, and they worked closely to coordinate academic and emotional support.
‘Students come in carrying a lot, especially after this pandemic,’ Alba said in Spanish. ‘One counselor is not enough for 400 students.’
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