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DC Legislative Update: October 6, 2014
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SSWAA is Again Prominent at the Committee for Education Funding Gala!

SSWAA is an active member of the Committee for Education Funding (CEF), a coalition of 120 national education associations, institutions of higher education, and other interested organizations all focused on increasing the federal investment in education.  SSWAA's Director of Government Relations, Myrna Mandlawitz, is the immediate past president of the coalition and has served on the board for 20 years.  This year's annual CEF Gala, where the coalition recognizes members of Congress for their support of education funding, was attended by Myrna, SSWAA Executive Director Frederick Streeck, board member Pat Childs, former board member Daniel McCarthy, and Libby Nealis, SSWAA Director of Policy and Advocacy. 

Myrna presented the Richard W. Riley Career Education for All" (left).  Myrna also presented a special Staff Recognition to Erik Fatemi, former Staff Director of the House Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Appropriations Subcommittee (right)

U.S. Education Secretary Announces Guidance to Ensure All Students Have Equal Access to Educational Resources

On October 1, 2014, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced guidance, in the form of a Dear Colleague (37 pages)   letter to states, school districts and schools to ensure that students have equal access to such educational resources so that they all have an equal opportunity to succeed in school, careers and in life. All students—regardless of race, color, national origin or zip code—deserve a high-quality education that includes resources such as academic and extracurricular programs, strong teaching, technology and instructional materials, and safe school facilities.

One excerpt from the Dear Colleague letter acknowledging the role School Social Workers: 

"Other non-instructional employees whom OCR may consider include school guidance counselors, school psychologists,  librarians, specialized therapy providers for students with disabilities (e.g. speech, physical, and occupational therapists), and social workers. The services these employees provide in academic development, social and emotional skill development, and college and career planning contribute to positive student outcomes. Yet low - income students and students of color are less likely to have access to counselors, and in turn to the information and tools necessary to make decisions about pursuing college or a career. OCR evaluates staff - to - student ratios for these positions and their training and professional qualifications. In addition, OCR looks at other staff members who help students enter the classroom ready to learn, such as social workers or other health professionals, and those who otherwise support the school environment."  p. 16.   Read more. 

Beyond Racial Inequities:

SSWAA is also working with allied organizations to elevate the understanding that this goes beyond racial inequities, e.g. students with disabilities and students in poverty regardless of race. We know much of this boils down to disparity/inequity in SERVICES provided and available. OCR is now collecting the data on FTE social workers, psychologists and nurses. We will be watching this data collection closely and will look to make this connection. 

New Grants and Grant Awards to Improve Mental Health Services: 

Both ED and HHS have announced grant awards under several programs that are part of the President and Vice President’s Now Is the Time initiative. HHS announced $99 million in NEW GRANTS to improve mental health services for young people.

They provided:·

  • More than $34 million to train just over 4000 new mental health providers. Almost all of these are grants to institutions of higher education.
  • More than $48 million to support teachers, schools and communities in recognizing and responding to mental health issues among youth, creating safe and secure schools and promoting the mental health of students in communities across the country through 120 new Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education) grants to state and local educational agencies. 
  • $16.7 million to support 17 new Healthy Transitions grants, to improve access to treatment and support services for youth and young adults ages 16 to 25 that either have, or are at high risk of developing, a serious mental health condition.

ED awarded more than $70 million to 130 grantees in 38 states as follows:

  • School Climate Transformation grants to school districts—$35,818,097
  • School Climate Transformation grants to states—$7,339,654
  • Project Prevent grants to school districts—$14,167,876
  • School Emergency Management grants to states—$13,082,991

DOJ -As part of the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative, the National Institute of Justice at DOJ has awarded nearly $63 million to research projects led by school districts and research organizations to help determine what safety interventions work best for specific schools and students. This research will provide professionals with a body of knowledge to help them make decisions about which programs are most effective—and most cost effective—for their particular schools and their challenges.

Did You Win?

To see the lists of award winners, visit

PLEASE CHECK to see if your district is an awardee and let SSWAA know if you are. 

HHS also announced $99 million in NEW GRANTS to improve mental health services for young people.  Read more from DC.

For additional details see: NIJ’s Comprehensive School Safety Initiative

SSWAA Legislative Advocacy Team
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