Committee for Children Blog

Advocating SEL in a Tumultuous Year: Our 2020 Highlights

Throughout the turmoil and unrest of 2020, Committee for Children’s Policy and Advocacy Team has advocated at the state and federal levels to promote the well-being of young people across our country. We contributed to key state wins for social-emotional learning (SEL) prior to and during the pandemic, and we continue to adapt and fight for equitable access to high-quality SEL for all young people. We do this because we want the best outcomes for children, and in an especially tumultuous year, SEL is essential to helping children, educators, and families cope. Here are some highlights from our advocacy work this year.

Our Multistate Legislative Efforts

Before the pandemic, we led the way to advance SEL policy in several states, including Washington, Indiana, Florida, and Idaho. In these states’ legislative sessions, we saw several wins for SEL, such as:

Read more about what we fought for in each of these states in this blog post.

In October, as we ramped up for new state legislative sessions, we co-hosted an exclusive webinar for Washington state lawmakers with the League of Education Voters, where we provided insights on SEL, trauma, racism, and resilience.

Committee for Children also advocates across all 50 states. Explore our interactive map to see what bills we’re tracking and supporting across the nation.

Our Work with Congress

Committee for Children worked at the federal level to ensure SEL was included in legislation from the COVID-19 pandemic relief proposal to the federal budget and more.

As part of these efforts, we co-hosted a congressional briefing with the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) that highlighted the role of SEL in trauma-informed practices, student mental wellness, and racial equity. We featured Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), Dr. Rose Prejean-Harris, director of SEL of Atlanta Public Schools, Paolo DeMaria, superintendent of public instruction at the Ohio Department of Education, and Carmen Xiomara Urbina, deputy director of the Oregon Department of Education. Click here to watch the briefing highlight reel.

When our government is responding to all the other emergent and ongoing needs of our country, it can be challenging to keep young people’s social-emotional well-being at top of mind. That’s why it’s important to make SEL explicit in legislation. We helped incorporate SEL language into the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, as well as subsequent (and thus far unpassed) other federal COVID-19-related relief legislation, including the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act, and the Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act. Although we’re still advocating for SEL language to be included in the federal budget for 2021, we’ve already succeeded in including SEL language in the House appropriations bill, which would level or increase SEL investments.

In addition to relief negotiations and the budget process, Committee for Children has also been working on the following pieces of federal SEL legislation:

Our 2020 Policy and Advocacy Collateral

The Policy and Advocacy Team came out with several new publications to advance SEL in the field and support educators’ advocacy efforts. Here are some highlights.

As the pandemic began, Committee for Children partnered with CASEL to analyze how states were incorporating SEL into their schools’ pandemic response and reopening plans. Together, we published “From Response to Reopening: State Efforts to Elevate Social and Emotional Learning During the Pandemic,” with findings, recommendations, and state examples.

In October, we published a policy brief, “SEL and Racial Equity,” that encompasses our blog series on racial equity. This brief offers a non-exhaustive investigation of how SEL policy can contribute to research-based, in-school racial equity strategies.

The team published another brief, “Politics May Not Impede SEL Development,” that analyzed the political affiliations of states that have adopted SEL K–12 standards and found that partisanship is not necessarily an impediment to passing state SEL standards.

We also published several one pagers on topics such as how SEL shows up in key issues like trauma-informed practices, SEL and promoting student wellness, and how SEL fits into a Multi-Tiered System of Supports framework, among many others. Read all of our policy collateral, from policy briefs to efficient one pagers, here.

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