School safety funding landscape after the pandemic

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act includes funding to expand mental health and support services in schools

President Joe Biden signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act on June 25, 2022, and this Act became Public Law No. 117-159 on the same day. After recent shootings in a Uvalde, Texas public elementary school and a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, parents, students, and community members demanded more action. So, what funding for K12 schools will be available from this law?

The law “invests in programs to expand mental health and supportive services in schools, including: early identification and intervention programs, school-based mental health and wrap-around services, improvements to school-wide learning conditions, and school safety.” Funding is described below.

  1. School Based Mental Health Services Grant Program: $500 million for additional mental health therapists in schools that show a need.
  2. School Based Mental Health Service Professionals Demonstration Grant: $500 million to help train and diversify a stream of counselors, social workers, and psychologists in schools.
  3. Title IV-A (Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants): $1 billion to use evidence-based practices for positive school cultures and to improve student learning conditions; three focus areas for this grant are a well-rounded education, a safe/supportive learning environment, and instructional technology for students.
  4. 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program: $50 million will expand extracurricular enrichment programs occurring after school and in summer to older students; these programs have been proven to improve student achievement and reduce violence.
  5. STOP School Violence Act grants: $300 million “to institute safety measures in and around schools, support school violence prevention efforts and provide training to school personnel and students. Codifies the clearinghouse, which provides evidence-based resources to improve school safety. Prohibits use of funds under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to train or equip any person with dangerous weapons in schools.”
The law includes funding for mental health services in schools and school violence prevention efforts.
The law includes funding for mental health services in schools and school violence prevention efforts. (John Minchillo)

Other parts of Public Law No. 117-159 include:

  • $750 million in state funding to help keep weapons out of the hands of convicted criminals who may endanger others; also supports mental health courts, veterans courts, drug courts, and crisis intervention orders. According to Justice for Vets, “The veterans treatment court model requires regular court appearances, as well as mandatory attendance at treatment sessions, and frequent and random testing for drug and alcohol use.”
  • The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) will now include convicted domestic violence abusers from dating relationships. These abusers will be removed from the database after five years if they do not perpetrate other crimes during that time.
  • Tightens requirements for federally licensed firearms dealers.
  • Makes it easier for prosecutors to go after dangerous illegal gunrunners.
  • $250 million for community-based violence prevention projects.

Lastly, the law supports children and family mental health services through supporting the “national expansion of community behavioral health center model; improves access to mental health services for children, youth, and families through the Medicaid program and CHIP; increases access to mental health services for youth and families in crisis via telehealth; and provides major investments at the Department of Health and Human Services to programs that expand provider training in mental health, support suicide prevention, crisis and trauma intervention and recovery.” CHIP stands for the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

The complete text of Public Law No. 117-159 can be found here:

Copyright © 2024 All rights reserved.