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2023 Advocacy in Action

I would love to see 2023 be the year that we see federal guidance and funding for schools to provide mental health counseling for all students. This past year we have recognized the severity of student mental health needs and schools are committed to addressing it, yet the lack of a clear structure has been paralyzing for districts taking the first steps to build necessary programs to meet student needs.

Kate Eberle Walker
Presence CEO, as quoted in THE Journal, January 2023

Today we are excited to announce the release of Presence’s 2023 Policy Agenda. This brief identifies the important path our company will walk this year to support the essential legislative and regulatory work that must be done to support children with disabilities and mental health needs.

In 2022, we saw some definite governmental wins and successes, including historic investments in children’s mental health. In the federal FY 2022 Bipartisan Omnibus Agreement, the Biden Administration secured nearly $300 million for schools to expand their mental health services. Last fall, Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra also issued a joint letter to Governors encouraging them to use federal funding to fully invest in mental health services for kids. And states also heavily invested in both the funding and infrastructure needed to better serve the behavioral and mental health needs of kids.

As 2023 unfolds, the education field will continue bearing witness to both state and federal lawmakers focused on COVID recovery. With concerning NAEP scores, declining public school enrollment, workforce shortages, and rising mental health challenges for school students and staff, legislators will undoubtedly be spending a large portion of their time and attention continuing to address all these issues. In addition, President Biden is expected to release his budget priorities this month. This means we will have more clarity and direction around his full set of education priorities in upcoming months.

Because we proudly advocate for children with disabilities and mental health needs, the recognition of these state and federal education priorities means we must continue our own important work encouraging policymakers and education leaders to pass and implement policies to improve funding and access to the services kids need to thrive, to be healthy, and to be successful. If we want different outcomes for students we need different and more focused approaches. The good news is that we know how to get there, we just need to do it.

To learn more about the priority issues Presence is focusing on this year, please read our new 2023 Policy Agenda.

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