More than a year after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a foundation created to distribute donations has made funding recommendations to address unmet needs of the needs of the community and continue to help Newtown heal.
The Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation, a nonprofit designed to distribute funding, released a report Tuesday following anonymous surveys and on-on-one meetings conducted by the Sandy Hook School Support Fund’s 2nd Distribution Committee between Dec. 16, 2013 and Jan. 31, 2014.
The surveys asked community members and survivors what kind of support and assistance they still needed and which resources they thought would best support them.
According to one of the surveys, one-on-one counseling, cash assistance, family and relationship counseling are among the resources most requested, followed by support groups, workshops, community activities, additional school security measures and support for school staff and first responders.
The report also found that family members of the victims and surviving children have experienced enduring mental health issues, and that families or surviving children often feel forgotten and “are struggling with significant family disruption” in the wake of the tragedy.
Additionally, the report expressed “grave concerns for the well-being” of several members of state police who were on scene that day. Some emergency responders haven’t wanted to seek mental health treatment due to stigmas around needing assistance and a lack of understanding of the resources available, according to the report.
Parents and community members are concerned about first responders and other affected individuals who have not sought the treatment they might need, according to the report.
According to a second survey that addresses barriers to getting help, primary roadblocks have been difficulty accessing services, lack of awareness and understanding about available funding resources, financial burdens and feeling discouraged, like nothing will help.
Barriers are most commonly experienced by family members of victims and surviving children, members of the Newtown Ambulance Corps, family members of first responders, teachers and school staff.
As a result, the foundation has put together a community recovery plan to help organize donations and funnel them to the people and services most in need. The committee recommends the following:
- $75,000 to help with out-of-pocket mental health support costs
- $75,000 toward a “financial needs fund” for affected individuals and families
- $10,000 for community programming to foster a sense of unity
- $40,000 for public education and training surrounding mental health concerns
The process will be repeated and the foundation will distribute funds again in the fall.