The new bipartisan school and gun safety law signed by President Biden on Saturday (see previous post) also includes a host of programs providing additional federal resources for schools, children and families. These programs are summarized below.
The new law builds on a couple of school security measures that were adopted in the wake of the 2018 Parkland, Florida school shooting, including:
- codifying a federal clearinghouse of “best practices” that was created after the Parkland shooting; and
- providing $300 million in funding through the STOP School Violence Act, a federal grant program created after the Parkland shooting. This funding will flow through U.S. Department of Justice programs and would be in addition to the roughly $133 million in current funding. It can be used to pay for school security hardware, training for educators on school safety practices, and violence prevention efforts.
The new law also provides additional support for mental health services to children and families, including:
- expanding the community mental health services pilot program, as well as Medicaid funding for certified community behavioral health clinics, allowing up to 10 new states to opt into the program every 10 years;
- providing $50 million in grants to states “for the purpose of implementing, enhancing, or expanding the provision of assistance through school-based entities” under Medicaid and state childrens’ health insurance programs, known as CHIP and requiring the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to provide guidance to states on how to increase access to health care and mental health services through telehealth programs to those enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP;
- directing the U.S. Department of Education to coordinate with other federal agencies to assist schools in billing Medicaid to cover services provided at in-school clinics and by schools themselves, including services provided in compliance with students’ individual education plans (IEPs) under federal special education law (IDEA);
- expanding two existing programs designed to increase the number of trained pupil services professionals, such as counselors, social workers, and school psychologists, by providing $500 million each for the School Based Mental Health Services Grant Program and the School Based Mental Health Service Professionals Demonstration Grant. Those programs, currently funded at roughly $10 million each, help states and school districts pilot innovative ways to recruit and train pupil services professionals.
- providing $240 million over four years for Project AWARE, which provides grants to states to fund programs to help students to better understand their mental health concerns and when to seek support, help educators identify and respond to mental health concerns, and help connect students and their families to needed services. (AWARE stands for Advancing Wellness and Resiliency in Education.); and
- setting aside $28 million for school-based responses to traumatic incidents.
Finally, the new law adds funding to some existing, targeted federal education funding streams, including
- providing $1 billion in additional funding through Title IV-A of the Every Student Succeeds Act, known as the Student Support and Academic Enrichment program. This program provides money to help schools provide a “well-rounded education,” improve conditions for learning through school climate and safety initiatives, and fund educational technology. (Title IV-A received about $1.2 billion in the last federal budget.); and
- providing an additional $50 million for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which supports after-school and summer programs.