AASA-Led Legislation Introduced to Bolster Student Mental Health Services Nationwide

March 22, 2024

On March 21, Sens. John Cornyn, Thom Tillis, Maggie Hassan, Jon Tester and Kyrsten Sinema, introduced the “Creating Access and Resources in Education (CARE) for Student Mental Health Act.” This legislation backed by AASA, the National Association of School Psychologists and 40 other education, healthcare, and civil rights organizations makes key improvements to the U.S. Department of Education’s mental health grant programs and ensures districts that are historically disadvantaged in applying for federal grants, such as rural and hard-to-reach districts, have more opportunities to access resources and hire critical mental health personnel.

The CARE for Student Mental Health Act 
  • Clarifies the distinction, purpose, and allowable activities of each grant to help eligible entities quickly determine which grant best meets their needs.
  • Requires the Department to improve notification and technical assistance for potential grantees which will enable more districts with limited administrative capacity to apply and compete for these federal grants.
  • Authorizes and streamlines the Strengthening the Pipeline of School-Based Mental Health Services Providers grant (formerly named MHSP) which supports partnerships between Institutions of Higher Education and LEAs to increase the number of properly trained school based mental health service professionals.
  • Authorizes the School Based Mental Health Services Program (SBMH) that assists high need LEAs to recruit, hire, and retain school based mental health personnel for students to remain healthy, engaged, and safe at school.
This legislation has been months in the making and is directly tied to the work AASA is doing as a strategic partner of the Greenlights Grants Initiative (link). In the FY24 appropriations bill, these programs received $74 million in funding.