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sswaa policy and advocacy

On The Hill

Federal Advocacy Update

School Social Workers Improving Student Success (SSWISS) Act (HR 1415)

During School Social Work Week in March 2023, Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-WI) re-introduced the School Social Workers Improving Student Success Act HR 1415, which would create a grant program that would allow schools to hire and retain school social workers. The bill would also provide technical assistance for school social work. As of March 2023, the bill has one cosponsor.  

One of SSWAA’s strongest allies on Capitol Hill is the Congressional Social Work Caucus, led by Congresswoman Barbara Lee. The CSWC works in tandem with the National Association of Social Workers, the National Association of Black Social Workers, the Council on Social Work Education, and other stakeholders to advance social work in America’s schools and communities.

Want to get involved Nationally?

To get more involved in national advocacy efforts, contact SSWAA's Advocacy and Legislative Action Committee co-chairs Robert Lucio (robert.utk@saintleo.edu) or Emilie Souhrada (emiliejsouhrada@gmail.com).

Need Legislative Consultation on a State Level?

We look forward to consulting with individual states to address specific legislative and policy needs. We are available to discuss advocacy strategies, review legislation, provide feedback, and connect with other states to share their successes and challenges. Contact the Advocacy and Legislative Action Committee co-chairs, Robert Lucio (robert.utk@saintleo.edu) or Emilie Souhrada (emiliejsouhrada@gmail.com).

Legislative impact

2024 SSWAA Legislative Priorities

School-Based Mental Health Services: The mental health needs of students have been growing and have exacerbated recent challenges, which highlighted the need for increased mental health funding throughout America’s schools. Alarmingly high rates of mental health challenges such as depression and anxiety have left school-based mental health services personnel overburdened with higher caseloads, yet severe workforce shortages and tight budgets have left schools unable to expand these services quickly enough to meet demand.

 Action Requested:

  • Support the EDUCATORS for America, Save Education Jobs Act, and other legislative items that provide school districts with the resources to hire and retain LEA/district-employed school social workers and other qualified mental health professionals.

  • Support the Increasing Access to Mental Health in Schools Act and the Mental Health Services for Students Act, which would provide funding and support for on-site mental health services for youth in schools nationwide.

  • Define LEA/district-employed mental health professionals to include school social workers.

  • Ensure that support for student mental health programs administered by LEA/district-employed mental health professionals (e.g., school social workers) is included in any comprehensive mental health reform legislation that is developed.

  • Recognize publicly that child and adolescent mental health legislation should be addressed as an urgent legislative priority in Congress.

  • Support telehealth access to mental health and social work services administered by LEA/district-employed mental health professionals.

Key Bills

Student Mental Health Helpline Act
Therapeutic fraud prevention act 
(HR 4146/S 2242)
counseling not criminalization in schools act
(HR 4011/S 2125)
increasing access to mental health in schools act
(HR 3572/S 1811)
School-Based Mental Health Demonstration and Personnel Grants Letter 

take action now

The new Senate Mental Health Caucus is a bipartisan forum for Senators and their staff to work together, hold events to raise awareness of critical mental health issues, promote bipartisan mental health solutions, and reduce stigma. 

 

We need your help to email your Senators to join this new Caucus today. The more members who join, the greater power the Caucus has to find bipartisan policy solutions to improve mental health and save lives.

Founded by U.S. Senators Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), and Tina Smith (D-Minn.), the bipartisan Caucus aims to improve prevention and early intervention efforts, expand the country’s mental health professional workforce, enhance our nation’s crisis response services, and increase access to evidence-based mental health treatment and common-sense solutions. 

Please take action now to ask your members of Congress to join the Senate Mental Health Caucus!

Follow this link here to take action now!

Email Template

[Elected official’s name]:

I am a school social worker in [city or school district] writing to you in [opposition to/support of] [bill title or policy issue], which would [effect of bill, i.e.: set aside funding for schools to provide comprehensive school-based mental health services].

[This is where you make the case for your stance on the bill. Include 2-3 of the strongest points that support your position, either by demonstrating there is a problem which this bill can help to solve, or by explaining what harm the bill would cause. This could be statistics, qualitative statements, or anything else you’d like to highlight.]

[If you’d like, include a personal story here of your experiences and how this legislation would positively or negatively affect you, your students and their families, your school district, and/or your community.]

[If there is a specific action/vote taking place on the bill, mention it here.] I encourage you to show your support for [the school social work profession/children and families/student mental health/etc.] by voting [Yes/No] on [bill title].

Thank you,

[your name]

 

Call Script

“Hello, my name is [name], and I am a school social worker in [city/district]. I’m calling to ask that [Senator/Representative Name] vote [yes/no] on [bill title], which would [effect of bill]. This bill will [describe how the bill will affect you, your students and their families, and/or the community]. [If there is a specific action/vote taking place on the bill, mention it.] I hope to see the [Senator/Representative] [support/oppose] this legislation. Thank you for your time!”

 

Example Call Script

“Hello, my name is Jane Smith and I am a school social worker in Spokane. I am calling to ask that Senator Murray vote yes on SB 100, the School Nutrition Act, which would provide additional funding for free dinner programs in schools. Many of my students struggle with food insecurity, and it has a serious impact on their academic, social, and physical well-being. Funding this program would help to eliminate these barriers and ensure the success of my students and youth around the country. The bill will be up for a vote on the Senate floor on January 21st, and I hope to see the Senator support this legislation. Thank you for your time!”

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