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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.

FY 2024 Appropriations update: Six spending bills passed; new deadline for education spending

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Biden administration releases FY 2025 budget proposal, includes afterschool related increases

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Office of Child Care finalizes their rule on the Child Care and Development Funds

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BY: Jillian Luchner      02/29/24

New draft for comment of Child Care Development Plan pre-print for 2025-2027

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BY: Jillian Luchner      02/12/24

Afterschool and summer learning called out in Improving Student Achievement agenda

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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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FY 2024 Appropriations update: Six spending bills passed; new deadline for education spending

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State of the Union recognizes importance of summer learning programs

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BY: Erik Peterson      03/12/24

Appropriations update: Countdown till next CR deadline

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House Education Committee advances workforce bill

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BY: Erik Peterson      12/21/23

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

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FY 2024 Appropriations update: Six spending bills passed; new deadline for education spending

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BY: Erik Peterson      03/13/24

Biden administration releases FY 2025 budget proposal, includes afterschool related increases

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BY: Erik Peterson      03/11/24

Appropriations update: Countdown till next CR deadline

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BY: Erik Peterson      01/18/24

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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BY: Erik Peterson      07/31/23

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

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BY: Jillian Luchner      06/22/23

Congress poised to resolve FY 2024 spending with 6-bill package, including support for afterschool and summer programs

Update, March 25, 2024:The Senate passed the measure early Saturday morning, and the bill has been signed into law by President Biden. Update, March 22, 2024: The House of Representatives passed the FY 2024 six-bill package on Friday morning by a vote of 286-134. Read the statement by Jodi...

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FY 2024 Appropriations update: Six spending bills passed; new deadline for education spending

Crisis averted. Yet again. The first week of March was another “shutdown week” in Washington, D.C. However, by week’s end, the House and Senate had passed a package of six appropriations bills that headed off a partial federal government shutdown, as funding for four spending...

BY: Erik Peterson      03/13/24

Biden administration releases FY 2025 budget proposal, includes afterschool related increases

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BY: Erik Peterson      03/11/24

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

Update – Nov. 16, 2023: Last night the ‘two-tiered’ Continuing Resolution that will keep federal funding intact until Jan. 19, 2024, (for Military Construction-VA, Agriculture, Energy and Water, and Transportation-HUDs) and until Feb. 2, 2024, (for all other federal agencies...

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?

As is the case each August, Congress has left Washington D.C., for several weeks. The month’s slower pace gives STEM, education and afterschool advocates an opportunity to digest what happened in the frantic days before the recess and assess what remains to be done in 2023. The annual...

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

This week, the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee pushed the FY 2024 appropriations process forward by holding multiple subcommittee mark-ups. On Friday, July 14, the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education (LHHS-ED) and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee marked up its...

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

Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro proposes $11.5 million in state funding for afterschool programs

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BY: Chris Neitzey      02/08/24

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

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BY: Chris Neitzey      12/14/23

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

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BY: Jillian Luchner      08/08/23

Empowering youth voices: Reflecting on the 2023 Youth Policy Forum

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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

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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

Congress poised to resolve FY 2024 spending with 6-bill package, including support for afterschool and summer programs

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BY: Erik Peterson      03/21/24

White House Domestic Policy Council focuses on summer learning

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BY: Erik Peterson      03/18/24

Afterschool and summer learning called out in Improving Student Achievement agenda

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BY: Erik Peterson      02/01/24

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

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BY: Erik Peterson      01/19/24

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

New law clarifies the use of federal funds for archery and other programs

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BY: Erik Peterson      10/04/23

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

OST college preparation programs close opportunity gaps for students of color

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BY: Mazzi Ingram      08/22/23

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

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BY: Jillian Luchner      06/22/23

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

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BY: Erik Peterson      05/22/23

FY 2024 Appropriations update: Six spending bills passed; new deadline for education spending

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BY: Erik Peterson      03/13/24

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

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BY: Erik Peterson      11/21/23

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

As is the case each August, Congress has left Washington D.C., for several weeks. The month’s slower pace gives STEM, education and afterschool advocates an opportunity to digest what happened in the frantic days before the recess and assess what remains to be done in 2023. The annual...

BY: Anita Krishnamurthi      08/28/23

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

The slower pace of August in Washington, D.C., is nearing its end. The imminent return of the U.S. Congress to Capitol Hill and the people’s business suggests the need for revisiting what lawmakers did before the August recess and what faces them in September. As students and teachers go back...

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

This week, the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee pushed the FY 2024 appropriations process forward by holding multiple subcommittee mark-ups. On Friday, July 14, the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education (LHHS-ED) and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee marked up its...

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

March madness = Budget & appropriations process kickoff!

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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