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Advocacy During the NASP 2022 Annual Convention
Whether you were there in person or following along from home, thank you for a wonderful week of NASP advocacy during the 2022 convention! As GPR Committee Southeastern Representative Dr. Meagan Medley said in her blog recapping her convention experience, NASP 2022 was exciting and energizing. I was lucky enough to spend most of the convention working at the NASP Connect booth and helping attendees contact their members of Congress. I’ll be honest—having spent the last 4 years working and living in Washington, DC, I can often feel cynical about the political process. But getting to speak to new advocates who were excited to make their voices heard and demand change was inspiring.
During the week of the convention, NASP advocates sent almost 3,000 letters to their U.S. Representatives and Senators. What an incredible testament to the power and passion of school psychologists! Advocates sent letters to elected officials in 47 states as well as Puerto Rico and DC, with Massachusetts having the most letters sent that week. Convention advocacy actions added to the already impressive advocacy from earlier this year, with over 700 letters sent during our initial appropriations push in January and February. This strong advocacy could not have come at a more crucial time, and do not doubt the impact that these actions have. Congressional appropriators are nearing the finish line for the FY2022 budget process with $1 billion on the line to address school psychology workforce shortages, and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has started work on a comprehensive mental health legislation package. Additionally, this week President Biden unveiled his plan to address the youth mental health crisis. His proposals include additional efforts to address the shortages of school psychologists, expand access to comprehensive school mental and behavioral health services, and ensure that all school mental health providers, specifically school psychologists, are included in state Medicaid plans as qualified providers. This is a direct result of our collective advocacy. School psychologists made their voices heard in the best way possible, and there’s still time to advocate! You can find the action alerts from convention here.
While I spent the majority of my time at the NASP Connect booth, I know there were some incredible advocacy-related sessions and meetings taking place throughout the week. I did get to attend my first-ever in-person Government and Professional Relations Committee meeting, which was a fun and productive highlight, but I was sorry to miss the session on innovative strategies to address shortages in school psychology. NASP Director of Policy and Advocacy Dr. Kelly Vaillancourt Strobach moderated a panel discussion about the great work school psychologists are doing across the country to improve access to school-based mental health services with the help of federal funding. As we wait for word on how much new funding these grants will receive in the FY2022 budget, it’s helpful to have such inspiring examples to learn from.
Chavez Phelps, GPR Southeastern Representative, facilitated the Public Policy and Advocacy Interest Group meeting where individuals shared the amazing advocacy taking place in their local communities. School psychologists are truly change agents, and it is always so inspiring to hear how you fight for the students, schools, and communities you serve! If you are interested in joining the Public Policy and Advocacy Interest Group, you can do so in the NASP Communities. This year NASP GPR Committee also awarded the 2022 Special Friend of Children honors to Senator Jon Tester and Congresswoman Judy Chu. You can watch their acceptance videos here and here, respectively.
If you enjoyed the convention’s advocacy activities (and we sure hope you did!), then we hope you will consider attending the 2022 Advocacy Academy. Taking place virtually on July 13–15, 2022, this advocacy experience will include policy training, advocacy exercises, and a virtual Capitol Hill Day where you’ll get the chance to meet with staff from your Members of Congress’s offices. Registration information is coming soon, so be sure to check back here.
Now, please share your convention stories! What do you want to see more of next year in Denver?