PA Mental Health Education Learning Program in Schools (PA HELPS) Information

This state-funded program encourages students to complete internships in school-based mental health fields in Pennsylvania and obtain their employment and certifications in a Pennsylvania Local Education Agency (LEA).

PHEAA administers the funding to support qualifying interns completing Educational Specialist Preparation Program requirements at a Pennsylvania postsecondary institution. The funds are awarded and disbursed to the LEA where the intern completes their internship.

Is My LEA Eligible?

To be considered for PA HELPS the LEA must:

  • Be located in Pennsylvania.
  • Be a school district, intermediate unit, area career and technical school, charter school, regional charter school, or cyber charter school.
  • Complete and execute a PA HELPS LEA Application and Agreement.
  • Provide PHEAA with a copy of the agreement establishing the internship between the LEA and the school the intern is attending for their Educational Specialist Preparation Program.
  • Employ a site supervisor for the intern that holds a certification in the same field that the intern is pursuing.
    • Prior to August 1, 2026, an individual working as a school social worker in an LEA may also hold: A PA Home and School Visitor certificate, a current license as a licensed social worker (LSW), or a current license as a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) issued by the PA Department of State.

      As a result, an eligible site supervisor for a school social worker intern may hold a valid school social worker certificate, PA Home and School Visitor certificate, or be licensed as a LSW or LCSW.

  • Use 100% of the awarded funds to compensate the intern for their internship.

Is My Intern Eligible?

To be considered for PA HELPS, interns must:

  • Be a current resident of Pennsylvania.
  • Be enrolled in an Educational Specialist Preparation Program approved by the PA Department of Education that leads to educator certification as a:
    • School nurse
    • School psychologist
    • School counselor
    • School social worker
  • Be accepted to an internship at an LEA in Pennsylvania.
  • Agree to work at an LEA located in Pennsylvania as a school nurse, school psychologist, school counselor, or school social worker for a minimum of 3 years following completion of the respective Educational Specialist Preparation Program.

What Are the Award Amounts?

All funds disbursed to the LEA must be used to pay the intern during the internship. PA HELPS provides awards specific to each field, as detailed in the chart below.

Additionally, interns must commit to work 3 years at a Pennsylvania LEA in their field upon completion of their respective Educational Specialist Preparation Program. After 3 years, the intern may be eligible to receive a commitment award.

Field Award During Internship Commitment Award
School Psychologist $25,000 $5,000
School Nurse $2,500 $5,000
School Counselor $10,000 $5,000
School Social Worker $10,000 $5,000