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On Sept. 12, 2018, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) introduced a new and improved Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Act to provide dedicated funding to states to lower the staffing ratios for school counselors, school psychologists and school social workers. The bill is similar to the former ESSCP that was funded under No Child Left Behind and has been given the same title. The Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Act would establish two five-year renewable grant programs (Base allotment grants and Need-based grants) to staff elementary and secondary schools with school counselors, psychologists and social workers, effectively by providing federal grants to states to disburse to school districts. Funding in the previous program was distributed entirely through competitive grants, and a relatively low number of school districts in a few states received grants each year. The new program would provide funding for all 50 states, and because matching funds are required, states receiving the grants demonstrate a commitment to improving student mental health and wellness. The bill requests an initial authorization level of $5 billion the first year. (Adapted from ASCA’s Legislative Affairs page: https://www.schoolcounselor.org/school-counselors-members/legislative-affairs#ESSCA)
- ASCA and the National Association of School Psychologists, the School Social Work Association of American and the American Psychological Association worked with Merkley and Clark’s offices to update the previous ESSCP and helped their offices introduce the bill.
- The Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Act is endorsed by the National Education Association, the National Parent Teacher Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, the School Social Work Association of America, the American School Counselor Association, and the American Psychological Association.
- Base allotment grants under the new ESSCA: State educational agencies would receive a grant on a proportional basis based on the number of elementary and secondary school students in each state. No state would receive less than $1 million for this grant.
- Need-based grants under the new ESSCA: State educational agencies may apply, on a competitive basis, for additional funds through a need-based grant. States must provide matching funds in an amount equal to not less than one half of the additional grant amount. These grants are based on need for mental health services providers to achieve the recommended student-to-staff ratios for school counselors, psychologists and social workers.
- The purpose of the grants is to ensure that every state can meet the recommended counselor-to-student ratio of 250:1. Currently the average ratio is 482:1.
- Be on the lookout for the opportunity to contact your members of congress about supporting ESSCA.
- (From ISCA, August 2018) Hello Indiana School Counselors! Now is the time to reach out to your member of congress to urge support for the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Act. Let’s come together and advocate for lower School Counselor to student ratios and contact our legislators! www.votervoice.net/ASCA/
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This post was created by EFGH ContentManager on September 13, 2018.