A K-12 school counselor wears many hats at work — professional trainer, peer coach, trusted adult, mental health awareness advocate and school counseling program fundraiser — all in one day.
For many school counselors, the statutes that support federal funding of social and emotional learning (SEL) in K-12 schools is a foreign language. Just like traveling in a land where you don’t speak the language, K-12 counselors need to know a) what types of programs fit into those SEL statutes and b) how to ask the right questions for their school counseling program.
We asked 23-year veteran educator, administrator and the 2012 Outstanding CTE Counselor of the Year in Arizona Amanda Nolasco to lead our webinar, How to Get Funding for Your School Counseling Program. In it she discussed two vital aspects of your funding journey:
- How to identify the right SEL program for your K12 activities.
- How to advocate for your school counseling program.
Federal funding for K-12 social and emotional learning
A key part of identifying the right federal funding program for your school’s SEL program is to understand that that statute for each program has the most accurate information on what activities are allowable.
Since 2020, large Education Stabilization Funds for grades K-12 were included in legislation related to the pandemic including:
- $13 billion in The CARES Act.
- The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act earmarked $54 billion.
- The American Rescue Plan Act allotted $122 billion in funding. The funding for SEL programs in K-12 schools to address mental and behavioral health of our students is available. However, the statutes can be hard to read and require some guidance to get through efficiently.
Nolasco shared a handy tool provided by the Department of Education in Arizona. Their SEL funding guide helps counselors find answers to the following key questions.
- What activities would each federal program allow?
- What section of the statute to reference for a particular allowable activity?
- What SEL activities look like (i.e., professional development or support groups)?
“Learn first what money there is and learn how it’s being used,” Nolasco advised counselors starting to navigate funding available at the district, state and federal levels.
A heuristic tool, like the one Nolasco shared, provides counselors with the guidelines they need to identify federal SEL programs by title and section. By cutting out some guesswork, you can focus on positioning your funding proposal and planning your school’s SEL program. The Arizona SEL funding guide is an all-in-one time-saver and a confidence boost.
SEL training for K-12 teachers
In the SEL realm, there is no shortage of professional development opportunities for teachers. It is important to have the knowledge of what funding is available for professional development, in-service training and certification in specific SEL areas such as, SEL/academic integration, strengths-based behavioral management, restorative justice, mental health awareness and more.
Once you understand the tools necessary to get funding for your K-12 SEL program, counselors should not forget that a credential management solution is a crucial component of a well-organized and executed SEL program for your school, district and state’s education system.
Nolasco reminds her fellow counselors that “we’re advocating for ourselves, more importantly, we’re advocating for our students and the support that they need.”