Three Takeaways from the First Year of the All Kids Safe and Well Campaign | By: Committee for Children In 2022, we launched the All Kids Safe and Well campaign to advocate for lawmakers to invest in primary prevention programs and services that teach young people life skills like communication, problem-solving, and stress management. Nearly one year later, these skills remain crucial to mitigating the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the youth mental health crisis on young people. Here are three key takeaways we’ve learned during the first year of advocating for primary prevention, life skills education, and children’s social-emotional well-being. There is broad agreement and support for prevention and life skill-building.We were excited to see broad support for the need for primary prevention, with more than 50 organizations joining the campaign—from youth organizations and violence prevention groups to mental wellness groups and more. Having a broad base of partners from the community, education, health, research, policy, and advocacy sectors was critical to building awareness and engaging advocates and policymakers. And it’s not just state and national organizations that recognize the need for primary prevention programs. Parents across the political spectrum agree: 80 percent are concerned about the mental health status of their children, and 75 percent think schools have a role to play in teaching students life skills that can help them thrive. There is still a critical need to address student mental wellness and life skill-building.We started this campaign to highlight the importance of primary prevention to help children build essential life skills that can promote well-being and increase resilience. Although we made great strides in raising awareness about the power of primary prevention, the urgency to address student social-emotional wellness remains. Presently, pediatric mental health hospitalizations have increased and intensified. More than eight in 10 public schools have seen stunted behavioral and social-emotional development in their students since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and 57 percent of teen girls and 29 percent of teen boys reported feeling “persistently sad or hopeless” over the past year. Given that the US is also facing a shortage in mental health workers, lawmakers should consider it a matter of when, not if, a child will face a crisis.Research shows that primary prevention, including life skill education, helps prevent harmful behaviors like substance abuse, bullying, suicide, and other forms of violence. Lawmakers can help keep students safe from these risks by investing in a strategy that mitigates and protects children against the many challenges they experience today.Prevention programs face an uncertain future due to decreased federal funding.Schools and educators who were already struggling to support students over the last few years may find it even harder to tackle these challenges in the future. Federal funding for in- and out-of-school programs that address student mental wellness is decreasing. In 2024–2025, the average district will have to cut costs by about $1,200 per student with little data to understand the impact of past funding on addressing learning loss and mental wellness. Young people agree help is needed; only one-third of teens ages 13 to 18 said they feel supported by their schools in terms of mental health. Policymakers and districts should work together to turn their focus toward evidence-based and cost-effective solutions, like life skills education, to provide all students with the support they need. What’s next?With student well-being still in crisis, our work is only beginning. Continued progress will require policymakers to prioritize funding and support for comprehensive mental health and wellness programs that support all kids. That’s why this fall the All Kids Safe and Well campaign will return for a second year, with a renewed focus on working with policymakers to move this work forward.How can you get involved?Committee for Children works to ensure that all children can build the skills they need to succeed at school and in life. Sign up here to get involved with Committee for Children’s efforts to advocate for federal and state policies that support young people’s well-being. For more information on the All Kids Safe and Well campaign or to learn more about how to support us in fall 2023, check out our website or email us at email@example.com to learn more about how to support us in fall 2023.