Amid school threats, intervention groups facing critical staff shortage
Schools in Hamden and New Haven were closed Monday because of threats – and understaffed mental health agencies expect the problem to get even worse.
On Friday, Norwalk High School was locked down due to a hoax threat. Two days earlier, it dealt with a bomb threat. In Hamden, schools closed for three straight days after weapons threats.
Intervention groups Monday blamed a severe shortage of licensed therapists.
"There's not enough social workers, not enough of that expertise there," said State Rep. Cathy Abercrombie.
As the pandemic labor shortage deepens, some Connecticut nonprofits are 30% short on staff. At Community Health Resources, that means longer waits for mental health therapy and opioid treatment.
"We have managers throughout our service system covering shifts, covering overnight shifts," said CHR President and CEO Heather Gates.
Some workers are leaving for warehouse jobs and grocery stores for better pay.
"This fall, Costco announced starting wages at $17 dollars an hour to start while Amazon now has starting wages of $18 an hour," said Providers' Council President and CEO Michael Weekes.
While children and adults wait for the help they need, threats continue in school, and crisis groups say they're afraid this problem will get worse.
The state gave nonprofits more money this year, but most of their COVID-19 relief funds went to prevent a nursing home strike.