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The Legislative Process: Can I Get That Grant Today?
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And other questions with not-so-simple answers

 
By Libby Nealis, SSWAA Legislative Specialist

For most of us, when there is a grant announcement that sounds like a great opportunity for desperately needed funds, you jump.  Where can you sign up?  Sometimes you have to slow down and take a few steps back.  This article is intended to help you understand some of those steps and learn what you can do to help SSWAA with the advocacy needed to move forward.  Here is where we are in the process:
Firstly, SSWAA is ecstatic about the newly proposed, School Social Workers Improving Student Success Act (SSWISSA), H.R. 1138.  This is the first piece of federal legislation that specifically highlights school social workers, articulates the critical need for school social work services, and connects them to academic success. 
 
That said, it is important to recognize that this is only the first step in what is usually a long and slow-moving process.  This may seem like a disappointment, but do not be discouraged!  Keep in mind that before 1975, there was no such thing as IDEA.  These laws start out as a single legislative proposal and can ONLY gain ground with persistent and dedicated advocacy. 
That is why it is so important that you not only contact your Representative, but that you share this message with colleagues and fellow advocates and ask them to contact their Members of Congress as well to sponsor this bill.  Please join us in this necessary advocacy!
 
Secondly, H.R. 1138 is a bill in the House, not in the Senate.  SSWAA is currently working on finding a Senator to sponsor and introduce this legislation in the Senate.   Once we have a Senate bill, we will begin to ask other Senators to show their support by signing on as a cosponsor to the Senate bill.  At that point we will have greater leverage to advocate for its inclusion in ESEA. 
So for now we ask you to contact your Representative and ask them to support and cosponsor H.R. 1138.
 
Lastly, the SSWISSA is a bill that would amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  This means that it could be attached to ESEA if and when it is finally reauthorized.  To have it successfully included and authorized in ESEA, it would have to be accepted into the larger committee bill and/or added as an amendment during debate.
As you may be aware, our nation is in a time of severe budget deficits, both federally and across the states.  The leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives is working to eliminate programs and services which it has deemed duplicative, wasteful, and/or exceeding the reach of necessary government involvement.  They are not so keen on adding new grant programs and services; at least not at this time. 
 
SSWAA needs all the advocacy we can muster to educate our elected officials and state and school district leaders on the importance of school social work services and the effectiveness of such services in improving academic achievement and student success.  We are so pleased that we have found such an amazing champion in Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI) to stand up for the importance of school social workers and our services.  Please join SSWAA in supporting this effort!
TAKE ACTION and contact your Representative and ask them to cosponsor H.R. 1138.  For guidance on doing this, go to here
 
Feel free to also urge them to:  SUPPORT FUNDING FOR THE ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOL COUNSELING PROGRAM!!  Go here!

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