Federal Policy

Federal policies can play a key role in creating conditions that support statewide and districtwide implementation of social and emotional learning (SEL).

  • Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

    This 2015 federal legislation gives states much more control about how they use federal funding through programs such as Title I and Title IV. In response, a growing number of states are using this new flexibility to strengthen SEL-related policies and programs. For example, states have an opportunity to develop guidance for how districts may elect to use Title IV funding to support SEL, including through evidence-based programs. State education agencies may also use increased Title 1 set-aside funds to create new positions for SEL. Click here for recommendations and resources.

    In Congress

    The field is watching closely the 2020 appropriations bill moving through the House, which includes $260 million in funding for SEL. The funds would support research, teacher professional development, mental health professionals in schools, and community schools. Other relevant bills include:

    • In July 2019, Reps. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) introduced the bipartisan Chronic Absenteeism Reduction for Every School (CARES) Act, H.R 4220. Chronic absenteeism is defined as missing 10 percent or more of the school year and has been found to negatively impact school performance, high school graduation rates, and overall student success into adulthood.
    • Also in July 2019, Reps. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and Mike Bost (R-Ill.) introduced the Teacher Health and Wellness Act, H.R. 4221. This bipartisan legislation creates a pilot study at the National Institute of Health aimed at reducing teacher stress, increasing teacher health, and ultimately boosting student achievement.
    • Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) introduced the Social and Emotional Learning for Families Act (SELF Act), H.R. 6120, in June 2018 to increase the capacity of parents, with teacher assistance, to demonstrate and teach children social and emotional skills.
    • Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) introduced the Aim Higher Act, H.R. 6543, in summer 2018, which would amend the Higher Education Act and include well-rounded teacher grants that focus on embedding SEL training into teacher preparation programs.

    National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development (NCSEAD)

    The National Commission on Academic, Social, and Emotional Development., after two years of extended deliberation and input from the field, released its comprehensive set of findings and recommendations in January 2019. Two of CASEL’s board members, Linda Darling-Hammond and Tim Shriver, co-chaired the Commission, and several of our colleagues and collaborators participated. More


  • ESSA, SEL, Accountability

    CASEL and LPI answer common questions about SEL assessments.

    Check out the recording “ESSA, SEL, & Accountability”

    Check out the brief “Encouraging Social and Emotional Learning: Next Steps for States.”

Key Resource
Videos: Congressional Briefings

CASEL and  Committee for Children organize annual congressional briefings on social and emotional learning, when members of Congress and their staffs learn more about SEL from leading practitioners, researchers, and policymakers. Topics include teacher preparation and employability skills.

2019: View the video of the briefing on SEL and teacher prep (1 hour, 3 minutes).

2017: View the video on SEL and employability (1 hour, 22 minutes), highlights. (7 min.), and the statement by Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) (4 min.).