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National and State School Psychology Association Membership Amidst a Global Pandemic
While we continue practicing social distancing and other safety measures in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, membership in your national and state school psychology associations is especially crucial now more than ever. The current pandemic has raised concerns about the welfare of children and families as well as the potential impact on education and the field of school psychology. Having the appropriate tools and resources to advocate for the delivery of a multi-tiered system of supports can have a tremendous impact for the families we serve and for our profession.
School psychology association membership provides access to many resources and tools to begin or advance advocacy efforts that can lead to meaningful enhancements in the profession and the lives of children and families. Given the current pandemic, staying abreast of the latest tools, resources, and being able to connect with colleagues within your state and nationally offers a convenient way to leverage a wealth of advocacy power. At the state level, school psychology leaders often play an integral role in communicating with its membership any new legislation, policy changes, and various ways members may play an active role. More importantly, state school psychology associations leadership maintains consistent communication with National Association of School Psychology (NASP) advocacy efforts through each state's Government and Professional Relations State (GPR) Liaison role, an advocacy arm of NASP. COVID-19 has opened up a number of opportunities for school psychologists to speak out and engage in activities to promote school psychologists' role in education and mental health. Grassroots advocacy efforts, such as highlighting the many roles of school psychologists, building and joining coalitions, and writing letters to local and state legislators are just a few advocacy activities that are offered with specific instructions and accompanying materials. The synergy created by working with colleagues can have a far more reaching and powerful influence with state legislators.
NASP membership offers similar advocacy activities available at the state level, but makes accessible to membership and the public a variety of online resources that can be utilized in any state. Many tools to advocate in your school, community, state, and beyond that are available through the Advocacy Action Center. While NASP seeks to advance policies and practices that expand the role of school psychologists and provide access to comprehensive psychological services, your membership gives you additional benefits that afford you the opportunity to begin grassroots advocacy. NASP membership provides access to an additional layer of resources to assist in member advocacy, including a Policy Playbook, and more in-depth resources on specific policy topics relevant to school psychology. Furthermore, publications such as the Communiqué, periodicals, and access to a supportive peer community are also available through NASP membership. The latest information offered through any one of these resources often lists multiple policies that NASP is organizing its membership to advocate for or against.
It is now critical to begin, update, or maintain your association membership at both national and state levels given the new normal created by COVID-19. Understanding how to advocate for flexible timelines associated with initial evaluations, the delivery of mental health services via telehealth protocols and best practices, and the provision of comprehensive school psychological services to our most vulnerable students are relevant topics that offer a number of resources to share with national, state and local legislative authorities and key decision makers. We must remain vigilant in sharing our expanded role, to include providing mental health services and engaging with problem-solving teams to support a tiered system of supports, to maintain and improve the relevance of school psychology in the wake of the pandemic.
The effects of the pandemic will likely generate additional unexpected consequences that we must prepare for as a professional group. Given the current economic climate and projected education budget cuts in 2021, decision makers may re-evaluate the need for school psychologists as an integral role in schools and education. Quite frankly, our jobs are at times on the chopping block as the greater demand is for classroom teachers rather than student services related professionals. Your membership can equip you with the tools and resources necessary to advocate for your position and those of your fellow colleagues. Your membership shows you how to fuel your advocacy engine and provides opportunities to engage in advocacy events individually or with your colleagues. We must all do our part and step up to the plate to protect our profession. Advocacy does not require one to have special gifts and talents, but to speak out or take action on a cause for which they are passionate. I encourage all of you to use your colleagues and resources offered through NASP and your state school psychology associations to find and use your voice to advocate for our profession. When we speak as a collective body, we have the potential to move our profession to new heights and improve the livelihood of many children and their families.