Bennet, Colleagues Call for Stronger Investment in Student Health and Safety

Washington, D.C. - In the face of the opioid epidemic and gun violence endangering our nation's youth, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, along with a group of Democratic senators, this week wrote a letter to Senate Appropriations Committee leadership calling for stronger federal investments that enhance student health and safety.

The senators recognize that our nation's schools are increasingly at the forefront in the response to two crises: the opioid epidemic and gun violence. In the letter, they requested the highest possible funding allocation for the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant under Title IV-A of the Every Student Succeeds Act in order to provide schools with the resources they need to help their students stay safe and healthy and cope with trauma.

"While we are aware of the numerous priorities you must address, Congress needs to convey a strong message about the importance of funding school health, climate and safety activities," the senators wrote. "Under the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant, schools can utilize funds for activities such as providing school-based health and mental health services and counseling, implementing systems and practices to prevent bullying and harassment, supporting trauma-informed classroom management, and establishing community partnerships. School districts can also use funds to improve school safety, including training school personnel in school-based violence prevention strategies and developing relationship building skills among students to help improve safety and prevent violence."

As of the date of this letter, based on analysis by CNN, there have been 12 shootings in American schools since the beginning of the year. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, in 2016, there were 63,600 drug overdose deaths in the United States, equivalent to 174 individuals dying each day, and 92,000 children were removed from their homes in FY16 because at least one parent had a substance use issue.

As a formula-based program focused on the flexible, locally-determined use of funds, the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant is well suited to ensuring that a large number of districts have resources they can direct in a manner that best addresses their particular needs in supporting student health and safety, a well-rounded education, and the effective use of educational technology.

A copy of the letter is available HERE.