CHICAGO, IL – The American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021 represents a $123 billion infusion in K-12 education, including support for social and emotional learning (SEL). To assist leaders and policymakers in this opportunity, CASEL has released a new policy brief, The Three Highest Priority Investments to Make in SEL with American Rescue Plan Dollars. Originally developed for the Recovery to Reinvention series led by PIE Network and Bellwether Education Partners, the brief includes specific guidance for district leaders, local policymakers, and state policymakers.
Decades of research have demonstrated the effectiveness of SEL for supporting students’ academics, behaviors, mental health, and long-term success. The ARP’s historic levels of K-12 dollars offer a critical opportunity to invest a long-term foundation for evidence-based, systemic implementation of SEL that fully supports students and schools through the pandemic and beyond. Investments in SEL align to the ARP expenditure guidelines, and policymakers can help optimize resources by ensuring investments are evidence-based, sustainable, and responsive to the needs of all students, including those in historically marginalized communities.
There are three key areas where investments of ARP dollars could most effectively bolster systemic implementation of SEL:
- Promote SEL for students
- Support adult SEL competencies and capacity-building
- Align SEL efforts across schools, families, and communities
The new policy brief provides detailed recommendations for each of these areas, including specific guidance for districts and states. We strongly recommend leaders at all levels should engage students, educators, families, and communities in the planning and decision-making process around investments to holistically support all students and adults.