SOPHE is extremely disappointed with Congress’s decision to allocate only $400 million to the Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) grant program, authorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act.
The SSAE grant program found in Title IV, Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), was envisioned as a flexible funding source to fund the effective use of technology, promote safe and healthy students, and ensure students receive a well-rounded education, including health education.
SSAE was authorized at a funding level of $1.65 billion. But funding the SSAE program at such a prohibitively low level of $400 million will likely force some states to allocate the funds using a state-level competitive grant, rather than using the formula Congress authorized. These forced changes to the program will hinder states’ and school districts’ ability to make meaningful investments in safe and healthy school climates, which are essential to our nation’s youth.
“SOPHE members have seen the impacts of diminished funding for health education in schools and its detrimental effects on obesity, violence, drug abuse, and other youth problems. For example, the number of middle and high school students using e-cigarettes in just one year has tripled, which could have been prevented or reduced through effective health education,” according to Elaine Auld, MPH, MCHES, CEO of the Society for Public Health Education.
SOPHE urges Congress and the administration to recognize the impacts that these impractical funding levels will have on the SSAE program and to ensure that the program is fully funded at the authorized level of $1.65 billion in FY ’18 and beyond.
Failure to fund the program at the authorized funding level will leave many school districts with inadequate or no health education programming, which denies students the opportunity for a well-rounded education that includes essential skills for healthy decision-making.