Government Affairs and Advocacy

Oct. 17 Federal Update: Back to School Hearing Shines Light on Social and Emotional Learning

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October 14, 2022

To mark the beginning of the school year, the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education on the House Committee on Education and Labor hosted the hearing, “Back to School: Meeting Students’ Social and Emotional Needs.” Chairman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D-Northern Mariana Islands) opened the hearing by citing evidence-based interventions, like intensive tutoring, summer learning, and social and emotional learning (SEL) programs, that help reverse learning loss experienced during the pandemic. He noted several school districts that have used American Rescue Plan funds to address students’ needs through parent academies, family resource centers, and mental health counselors.

One of the witnesses, Dr. Aaliyah Samuel, president and CEO of Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, stressed the importance of SEL, which, “creates the conditions necessary for academic recovery.” Citing a meta-analysis of 213 studies on SEL initiatives, she said that these programs decreased anxiety and behavior issues among students, improved attitudes toward fellow students and school, and enhanced academic performance. Samuel warned against recent efforts to politicize SEL through misinformation and bans and encouraged lawmakers to continue supporting SEL programming as a critical component of addressing learning loss.

HHS Awards Grants to Address Black Youth Mental Health

The Office of Minority Health awarded $3 million in grants as part of an initiative to improve Black youth mental health. The three-year project, carried out by eight organizations, will identify policies that address mental health challenges for Black youth. Awardees will test these approaches in different settings, including schools, community centers, and religious organizations. The initiative grew from a Health and Human Services report on Black youth suicide, which analyzed demographics, risk factors, and potential interventions to prevent suicide. The eight organizations are located in Arizona, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, and Rhode Island, and the project officially began Sept. 30, 2022.

New Social Determinants of Health Initiatives in Massachusetts and Oregon

Massachusetts and Oregon received approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to cover specific nutrition and housing assistance with Medicaid funds. These section 1115 demonstration initiatives recognize that social needs, as well as medical needs, drive health outcomes. Through these projects, Massachusetts can provide housing support, nutrition education, and food assistance to Medicaid enrollees, including postpartum individuals, for up to 12 months. Oregon will be able to expand these types of social services to individuals during life transitions, including those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. In both states, Medicaid beneficiaries can continue accessing medical services alongside these new services.

New Ratings in the Family First Prevention Services Clearinghouse

The Family First Prevention Clearinghouse has posted new ratings for 12 prevention services. Two were found to be “well-supported,” one “supported,” one “promising,” and eight rated as “does not currently meet criteria.” The programs included mental health, in-home parent skill-based, kinship navigator, and substance abuse services. So far, 121 programs and services have been reviewed, and 62 have been rated as promising, supported, or well-supported.

The new ratings are as follows:

  • Arizona Kinship Support Services: “Supported”
  • Bounce Back: “Promising”
  • BRAVE: “Does not currently meet criteria.”
  • Functional Family Therapy – Child Welfare: “Does not currently meet criteria.”
  • Functional Family Therapy – Therapeutic Case Management: “Does not currently meet criteria.”
  • Guiding Good Choices: “Well-Supported”
  • Multimedia Circle of Life: “Does not currently meet criteria.”
  • Multisystemic Therapy – Prevention: “Does not currently meet criteria.”
  • Multisystemic Therapy – Substance Abuse: “Does not currently meet criteria.”
  • SelfCare Augmented: “Does not currently meet criteria.”
  • Strong African American Families: “Well-Supported”
  • Strong African American Families – Teen: “Does not currently meet criteria.”

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