July 14, 2015
The School Social Work Association of America is proud and pleased today to award its 2015 Children's Champion Award to Minnesota Senator Al Franken (D-MN).
First elected to the Senate in 2008 and re-elected in 2014, Senator Franken serves, among other committees, on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that handles all education and health care legislation....including all bills related to children's mental health and well-being.
Senator Franken has heard from Minnesota school social workers, parents, education leaders, and other mental health experts about how important mental health services are to schools and to improving the lives of students and their families. The result of those conversations was the introduction by Senator Franken of the Mental Health in Schools Act – both in the last and current Congresses. The bill would amend the Public Health Service Act to provide for comprehensive school mental health programs that are culturally and linguistically appropriate, trauma-informed, and age appropriate. Training for school mental health professionals and other staff is also a key part of this legislation.
Most recently, Senator Franken offered an amendment in the HELP Committee to add back the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling program to the ESEA, as Congress debates the reauthorization of that law. We were ecstatic when that amendment passed with flying colors!! The school counseling program remains the only federal grant program that provides funds to school districts to hire SSWs, school counselors, and school psychologists. Senator Franken has also regularly authored a "Dear Colleague" letter sent to his fellow Senators to ensure continued funding of this critical program.
In addition to his direct work on mental health issues, Senator Franken cares deeply about all children, especially those who need special attention. He has introduced, among other bills this year, the Housing for Homeless Students Act, the Educational Stability for Foster Youth Act, and the Student Non-Discrimination Act ensuring supports for LGBT students. He is also a strong supporter of
As you can see, the decision to award the Senator our Children's Champion award was a pretty easy one! You will find few other members of Congress who hold the concerns of children and youth as a higher priority – from early childhood through postsecondary education.
See CBS interview/article August 16, 2015. Most of What Congress Does Isn't Sexy
For more information on Senator Al Franken and his work in Congress, visit his website at: https://www.franken.senate.gov/
Anne McIncerney (MN), President of the School Social Work Association of America presents Senator Al Franken the Children's Champion Award.
Senator Franken poses with Anne McInerney (MN), President of the School Social Work Association of America and Nancy VanHorne, President of the Minnesota School Social Workers Association.