August 23, 2022 – The Georgia Department of Education is launching a statewide Employee Assistance Program for all full-time public-school teachers and staff in the state, along with Pre-K teachers.
Georgia's Public Education Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a partnership between Kepro and GaDOE, and will be provided at no cost to districts, schools, or employees. This program is designed to support the mental health and wellness of teachers and staff and will allow access to mental health counseling, financial and legal resources, work/life referral services, and more.
Services are available starting today, and teachers and staff will receive additional access information directly from GaDOE or from their district or school. The EAP is free, confidential, and supportive – neither the state nor local districts or schools will have access to information shared in counseling or consulting sessions.
“Teachers and school staff work hard each day to prepare Georgia's children for successful futures," Governor Brian Kemp said. “From teachers to counselors to cafeteria workers, all members of our educational staff play a critically important role in keeping Georgia the best place to live, work, and raise a family, and supporting them is a top priority of my administration. Georgia's Public Education Employee Assistance Program will ensure these hardworking Georgians – and their families – have access to mental health and wellness programs that can help them carry out the crucial mission of fostering the next generation of Georgia leaders."
“It is absolutely essential that we support those who support our kids," State School Superintendent Woods said. “That includes putting mental health resources in place. Establishing a statewide EAP for our public-school educators and staff was a clear recommendation of the Teacher Burnout Task Force – this is the first of many actions we plan to take in response to their report."
The launch of the EAP is a direct response to the recommendations of the Teacher Burnout Task Force chaired by 2022 Georgia Teacher of the Year Cherie Bonder Goldman. The classroom teachers who comprised the Task Force recommended that the state, local districts, and schools “provide mental health support or strengthen existing programs of mental health support for teachers and staff (i.e., Employee Assistance Program)."
“Finding actionable, meaningful ways to support and secure the mental health and wellness of educators very prominently emerged as one of our task force's top five areas of concern," said 2022 Georgia Teacher of the Year Cherie Goldman. “Teachers cannot take care of those whom they have been called upon to take care of if they are not taken care of themselves. To learn that the Georgia Department of Education has taken such immediate steps in response to the voices that we have sought to represent is tremendously encouraging, and I am incredibly grateful that educators and support staff across the entire state will have access to the resources of the EAP."
Services available through the EAP include up to six free sessions of mental health counseling, referral services for childcare, eldercare, home repairs, moving/relocation, and more, and free consultations with legal or financial experts.
“Supporting our teachers and staff is the key to setting our students up for success," 2023 Georgia Teacher of the Year Michael Kobito said. “We can only give our best when we can be at our best. Coming straight from recommendations made in the Teacher Burnout Report, teachers and staff will have resources that help with the mental health strains we face in today's world and other stressful situations outside the school building. In addition, access to services 24/7 will alleviate some of the stresses and anxieties teachers and staff face, creating more opportunities for a healthier, happier, and more supported workforce."