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Senate HELP hearing on mental health

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Senate HELP hearing on mental health

On June 8, 2023, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) hosted a hearing titled, "Why Are So Many American Youth in a Mental Health Crisis? Exploring Causes and Solutions.” The hearing featured two panels of expert witnesses convened to discuss the rising suicide rates among young people and widening gaps in mental health care accessibility. The first panel, consisting of U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and Deputy Assistant Education Secretary Katherine Neas from the U.S. Department of Education, focused on the role of social media and federal efforts to provide mental health services to students. The second panel, including Connecticut State Education Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker, Dr. Joy Osofsky, and Dr. Joshua Garcia, offered compelling insights into local efforts that have demonstrated successful outcomes for students, schools, and communities in addressing mental health issues.

Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) opened the HELP Committee hearing on mental health with shocking statistics on the state of youth mental health. He pointed out that factors such as gun violence, obsessive social media use, political and economic turmoil, compounded with the ripple effect of COVID-19 pandemic, intensify feelings of loneliness and isolation, which can lead to poor mental health outcomes. Ranking Member Bill Cassidy pointed out that reports of teens feeling sad/hopeless increased from 37 to 42 percent between 2021 and 2022 and advocated for efficient use of government funds.

The first witness Vice Admiral Vivek H. Murthy said, “We have to expand our efforts to ensure that every child has access to affordable, high quality, culturally competent mental health care.” Typical healthcare is thought to take place in places like counselor offices and psychiatric hospitals, but the committee generally agreed that federal funds, such as ESSER, should be effectively utilized by afterschool and summer programs to improve the state of our nation’s youth mental health.

Most if not all young people live and learn in environments where gun violence is an eminent threat as It has become the leading cause of death amongst young people. Murthy stated that when he talks to young people across the country, many say that gun violence “undermines their confidence in the future.” Research from the Sandy Hook Promise, which was founded after the Sandy Hook shooting, shows that social isolation is a leading warning sign that a student may be at risk for inflicting harm on themselves or others. Sandy Hook Promise promotes student interaction through their various programs in an effort to reduce isolation. Murthy points out the importance of in-person interaction for to reduce feelings of isolation and points to places like the YMCA and Boys and Girls Clubs at being great at fostering these interactions. 

Senator Christopher Murphy honed in on the negative impacts that social media has on youth mental health specifically how it raises insecurities and contributes to depression and anxiety. He applauded the investments in mental health but also said, “…unless you get to the root causes of unhappiness and isolation and loneliness, there is almost no amount of money that can make up for that inattention.” Murthy agreed that social media is contributing to the isolation and loneliness that young people feel.

The Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Department of Education Katherine Neas said that there is “critical need” to connect students to community-based sources of care. She mentions the $83 million in grants for promise neighborhoods and full-service community school program, which includes afterschool and summer programs. She also mentioned a grant program for struggling school districts, Student Voices for Change, whose effectiveness Charlene M. Russell-Tucker, the commissioner on the education for Connecticut, praised. Russel-Tucker shared that 80 percent of the Connecticut student voice for change programs’ focus on mental health and use USSER funds. Including 33 million in ESSER specifically for summer enrichment.

Pending cuts to afterschool and summer learning through the end of American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds is a threat to programs like what Charlene M. Russell-Tucker discussed. As a young person who has benefitted greatly from federally funded community-based organizations, I agree with the committee’s and witnesses’ suggestions and I am hopeful that continued investments will result in better outcomes for me and my peers, so that we can provide better outcomes for the generations that we will soon lead.

Changes coming to summer meals program for summer 2024

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Extending the liquidation deadline of ESSER III funds to promote student success

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Child Care Development Plan Cycle for 2025-2027 begins now with stakeholder input

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House Education Committee advances workforce bill

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BY: Erik Peterson      12/18/23

Comments sought on proposed change to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) regulations

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration for Children and Families (ACF) recently proposed changes to improve the effectiveness and integrity of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) regulations. This Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) is meant to help...

BY: Erik Peterson      11/21/23

FY 24 Appropriations update: Continuing Resolution, education spending bills, and… shutdown averted?

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BY: Erik Peterson      11/15/23

Federal appropriations update: Are we headed for a shutdown?

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BY: Erik Peterson      09/15/23

New Perkins Innovation and Modernization Grant Opportunity Makes Space for Afterschool Partnerships

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BY: Jillian Luchner      09/08/23

Appropriations update: Countdown till next CR deadline

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House Education Committee advances workforce bill

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FY 24 Appropriations update: Continuing Resolution, education spending bills, and… shutdown averted?

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Federal appropriations update: Are we headed for a shutdown?

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Summer is ending! What is the status of appropriations for STEM education on Capitol Hill?

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Back to school means back to D.C. for Congress. What’s ahead in September?

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Senate Afterschool Caucus briefing highlights the impact of afterschool and summer programs

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House Appropriators mark-up FY 2024 Education spending bill

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21st CCLC is 25: Join us in an upcoming year of visioning the future of 21st Century Community Learning Centers

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BY: Jillian Luchner      12/20/23

FY 24 Appropriations update: Continuing Resolution, education spending bills, and… shutdown averted?

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BY: Erik Peterson      11/15/23

Federal appropriations update: Are we headed for a shutdown?

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BY: Erik Peterson      09/15/23

Summer is ending! What is the status of appropriations for STEM education on Capitol Hill?

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BY: Anita Krishnamurthi      08/28/23

Senate appropriators propose level funding for 21st CCLC in FY 2024

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ED extends time for comments on 21st CCLC Draft Non-Regulatory Guidance

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BY: Jillian Luchner      06/22/23

Congress passes deal to raise debt limit and constrain spending

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Your feedback needed on 21st Century Community Learning Center draft non-regulatory guidance

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BY: Erik Peterson      03/27/23

FY 24 Appropriations update: Continuing Resolution, education spending bills, and… shutdown averted?

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Federal appropriations update: Are we headed for a shutdown?

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BY: Erik Peterson      09/15/23

Summer is ending! What is the status of appropriations for STEM education on Capitol Hill?

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BY: Anita Krishnamurthi      08/28/23

Back to school means back to D.C. for Congress. What’s ahead in September?

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BY: Erik Peterson      08/25/23

Senate appropriators propose level funding for 21st CCLC in FY 2024

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House Appropriators mark-up FY 2024 Education spending bill

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BY: Erik Peterson      07/14/23

Congress passes deal to raise debt limit and constrain spending

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BY: Erik Peterson      06/01/23

Making the case for increasing 21st Century Community Learning Centers funding

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BY: Erik Peterson      03/27/23

FY 2024 budget proposal is disappointing for 21st CCLC, but includes other afterschool related increases

Today the Biden administration released its FY 2024 discretionary budget request, formally kicking of the FY2024 appropriations process, while debate around raising the debt ceiling continues. With regard to afterschool and summer learning support, the proposal requests $1,329,673 for the Nita M....

BY: Erik Peterson      03/09/23

March madness = Budget & appropriations process kickoff!

This year, early March means the release of the president’s budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year and the beginning of the FY 2024 appropriations process in Congress. Here's what we know so far about how this year’s process may roll out in the coming year.  On or...

BY: Erik Peterson      03/01/23

Changes coming to summer meals program for summer 2024

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BY: Erik Peterson      01/22/24

Community schools: New grants, new legislation, continued synergy with afterschool and summer

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BY: Erik Peterson      12/18/23

Year in review: 2023 state budget success

This year’s state budget session was one of the most impactful regarding growing investments in afterschool and summer programs at the state level. We saw newcomers join a growing number of states utilizing state funds to create afterschool funding streams. We also saw states with existing...

BY: Chris Neitzey      12/14/23

Office of Child Care inquiring what should be included in State Child Care Development Fund plans

Update – The Afterschool Alliance has drafted comments on this notice that can be reviewed here. The three-year cycle for State Plans for Child Care and Development funds is upon us, and the federal government is now providing an opportunity to comment on the form states must fill out to...

BY: Jillian Luchner      08/08/23

Empowering youth voices: Reflecting on the 2023 Youth Policy Forum

By Keem Anderson, associate director at Ignite Afterschool (MN). At Ignite Afterschool, Minnesota’s statewide afterschool network, we recently had the privilege of hosting our 2023 Youth Policy Forum, an event dedicated to amplifying youth voice, advocating for impactful policies that...

BY: Guest Blogger      08/07/23

2023 state budgets bring new investments in afterschool programs

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BY: Chris Neitzey      07/11/23

Mental health and wellness a popular topic in state legislatures in 2023

Last year, as states grappled with ways to reengage students as the recovery from the pandemic set in, student mental health came to the forefront in many state legislatures. In Georgia last year, the state legislature passed HB1013, the Mental Health Parity Act, to address mental health...

BY: Chris Neitzey      05/11/23

State legislatures looking to increase investments in afterschool

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BY: Chris Neitzey      03/24/23

Governors for afterschool – 2023 edition

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BY: Chris Neitzey      03/07/23

Statewide afterschool networks continue to advance STEM as a policy priority at the state level

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BY: Chris Neitzey      02/14/23

Comments sought on proposed change to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) regulations

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration for Children and Families (ACF) recently proposed changes to improve the effectiveness and integrity of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) regulations. This Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) is meant to help...

BY: Erik Peterson      11/21/23

Summer is ending! What is the status of appropriations for STEM education on Capitol Hill?

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BY: Anita Krishnamurthi      08/28/23

Back to school means back to D.C. for Congress. What’s ahead in September?

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BY: Erik Peterson      08/25/23

Senate appropriators propose level funding for 21st CCLC in FY 2024

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BY: Erik Peterson      07/31/23

House Appropriators mark-up FY 2024 Education spending bill

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BY: Erik Peterson      07/14/23

Congress passes deal to raise debt limit and constrain spending

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BY: Erik Peterson      06/01/23

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BY: Erik Peterson      03/01/23

STEM education update: Good news and looking ahead

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BY: Anita Krishnamurthi      02/23/23

Mammoth spending bill includes support for afterschool, summer, mentoring, and more

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BY: Erik Peterson      01/23/23

Opportunity: CCDF supplemental funds available for school-age programs

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BY: Jillian Luchner      10/25/22

Extending the liquidation deadline of ESSER III funds to promote student success

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BY: Erik Peterson      01/19/24

Beyond relief – New tools to help sustain the impactful pandemic investments in afterschool and summer

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BY: Jillian Luchner      09/29/23

Senate Afterschool Caucus briefing highlights the impact of afterschool and summer programs

On Wednesday, July 12, the Senate Afterschool Caucus, in partnership with the Afterschool Alliance and the National Summer Learning Association, held a briefing on how the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program is making a positive difference for youth, families, and...

BY: Erik Peterson      07/18/23

$50M in 21st CCLC funds from Bipartisan Safer Communities Act sent to states

This summer, a group of 20 Democratic and Republican Senators, led by Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas), worked to pass the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which included gun safety measures, mental health support investments, and school safety provisions that aim to...

BY: Erik Peterson      11/03/22

Learning about summer learning

Summer enrichment funding for every state was required in the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER). The State of Summer Learning Grants: An Analysis of States’ Use of ARP Summer Enrichment published in July by the organization Education...

BY: Jillian Luchner      09/19/22

ARP investments in comprehensive afterschool: Kentucky case-study

By Mahika Gupta and Alexa Kamen, the Afterschool Alliance’s inaugural Summer Policy Interns. Mahika is entering her Senior year at Colby College in Maine, working on degrees in English Creative Writing and Astrophysics and participating as a staff writer for her college paper. Alexa...

BY: Guest Blogger      08/18/22

ARP investments in comprehensive afterschool: Connecticut case-study

By Mahika Gupta and Alexa Kamen, the Afterschool Alliance’s inaugural Summer Policy Interns. Mahika is entering her Senior year at Colby College in Maine, working on degrees in English Creative Writing and Astrophysics and participating as a staff writer for her college paper. Alexa...

BY: Guest Blogger      08/05/22

Roundup of afterschool in State Budgets Part 2

With state legislative sessions wrapping up and state budgets now finalized, we bring you our second installment of the roundup of afterschool funding in state budgets. As highlighted in the previous post from June, this year brought a number of new investments in afterschool at the state level....

BY: Chris Neitzey      07/21/22

For some, a summer of enrichment thanks to ARP dollars

This summer, thanks to pandemic relief funding, some students are experiencing a summer full of exploration, connections with friends and mentors, and learning that is engaging and exciting. After the last couple years, it can be a game changer for youth who have faced isolation, loss, and...

BY: Erik Peterson      06/27/22

Jodi Grant testifies at House hearing in support of afterschool programs

This morning, Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant testified at a hearing of the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS-E) Appropriations Subcommittee in favor of increased funding for Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st...

BY: Erik Peterson      05/26/22