Senator Cantwell, Colleagues Call for Increased Investment in Student Health, Safety

Funding would help ensure student well-being in the midst of the ongoing gun violence and opioid crises

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With schools across the country increasingly at the forefront of the nationwide response to gun violence and the opioid epidemic, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) today joined a group of her Senate colleagues to send a letter to Senate Appropriations Committee leadership calling for stronger federal investments in enhancing student health and safety.

The letter requests 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 ensure students are safe and healthy as they cope with the trauma associated with gun violence and the opioid epidemic.

“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.”

Gun violence and the opioid epidemic impact students throughout Washington and around the country. According to an analysis by CNN, there have been twelve shootings in American schools since the beginning of the year. In Washington, there have been a number of high profile incidents, including the arrest of a student in Everett and three separate arrests for school threats in Tacoma. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there were 63,600 drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2016, equivalent to 174 individuals dying each day. In FY2016 alone, 92,000 children were removed from their homes 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.

The letter to the Appropriations Committee comes as Senator Cantwell continues her leadership in the fight against the opioid epidemic. In February, she introduced the CARES Act, a bill to hold opioid manufacturers accountable for negligent distribution and misleading advertising practices. A few weeks later, Cantwell joined a bipartisan group of colleagues to introduce CARA 2.0, a comprehensive bill to increase programs and funding for opioid education, treatment, and recovery.

In addition to Senator Cantwell, the following Senators also signed the letter: Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Angus King (I-ME), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tina Smith (D-MN), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ed Markey (D-MA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mark Warner (D-VA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Doug Jones (D-AL), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Chris Coons (D-DE).

The full text of the letter is available HERE.