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The American Rescue Plan Act - What do School Psychologists Need to Know?
American Rescue Plan Act Passes the Senate – What Do School Psychologists Need to Know?
Last weekend, the Senate worked through the night and into the morning to pass a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, the American Rescue Plan Act. Today the House of Representatives passed the bill and will send it to President Biden, who will then sign into law one of the most expansive investments into education, healthcare, and social services in modern American history.
As the legislative text comes in at over 600 pages, we’ve looked through it to find highlights that are most relevant to school psychologists, so that you don’t have to. We’ve listed the most important education and mental health aspects of the American Rescue Plan, but you can view the full bill text here.
The American Rescue Plan Act provides $170 billion for the total Department of Education allotment. The majority of that funding, $122.8 billion, will go to the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, which was created through the CARES Act. Nonpublic schools will receive $2.75 billion, and $190 million will be reserved for American Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native education.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) will receive a dedicated $3 billion. The E-Rate program, which is run through the Federal Communications Commission and provides funding for emergency educational broadband connections and devices, will receive $7 billion in dedicated funding outside of the $170 billion of K–12 funding.
The American Rescue Plan Act also includes $1.5 billion for services and programs that address mental health and substance use disorders. $30,000,000 will go toward Project AWARE, which builds mental health awareness and violence prevention capacity in schools. Additionally, $20,000,000 in funding is dedicated to youth suicide prevention, and $100,000,000 for Mental and Behavioral Health Education and Training Grants through the Public Health Service Act.
As we wait for President Biden to sign the American Rescue Plan Act into law, it’s important to recognize that this bill is a huge investment in education and mental health and will provide a lifeline to many schools and communities. However, without long-term investment in education funding and mental health care, students will continue to struggle past this pandemic. We also need to make sure school leaders make these funds count.
We need school psychologists to meet with their state and local leaders, so that you can secure a seat at the table when it’s time to decide how these funds are spent. President Biden, Secretary Cardona, and Congressional leadership are regularly calling for school psychologists and other school-based mental health professionals to be involved in supporting student learning and well-being as they return to the classroom. You don’t want to pass up this opportunity to have your voice heard during a critically important time.
We urge you to celebrate this massive boost in COVID relief and then continue pressing your representatives in Congress to address NASP’s policy priorities. Bookmark NASP’s Advocacy Action Center and Policy Matters blog to stay in the know on all things advocacy. There are more great things to come!