Biden reignites call for youth mental health funding, child tax credit

Dive Brief:

  • Calls for increasing public school teachers’ pay, restoring the full child tax credit, establishing universal preschool and improving access to mental health care in schools — all of those initiatives were among President Joe Biden’s nods to education during his second State of the Union address Tuesday night.
  • Biden also asked Congress “to stop Big Tech from collecting personal data on our kids” and to pass bipartisan legislation banning targeted advertising to children online. 
  • The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act got a callout from Biden as well when he said “thank God we did” something to address gun violence following the May mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. But he said Congress must do more to “finish the job” and stop gun violence, as he called for a ban on assault weapons.

Dive Insight:

Biden repeatedly spoke of bipartisanship while also reupping several education talking points from last year’s State of the Union, including improving student mental health, taking on social media companies that target children and teens, and creating universal preschool.

In a recent National Parents Union poll of 1,025 registered voters and parents or guardians of K-12 students, 79% said they want direct funding to families of public school students to help pay for additional mental health support, including counseling outside of school. 

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act primarily looks to fund improved mental health care access within schools, with less of a focus on helping families receive care outside of school. 

Echoing Biden’s call for expanding the child tax credit on Tuesday night, the poll also found 74% of parents and guardians want to reinstate the credit and give families monthly checks of $300 per child under age 6 and $250 per child ages 6 and older.

A majority of parents and guardians — 84% — also said the federal government should provide universal lunches at school for all public school students. Biden did not discuss that idea in his speech. 

Biden also did not touch on more divisive yet often discussed issues affecting K-12 like ongoing book bans and curriculum censorship, as growing political conflict emerges in schools.

In the Republican rebuttal to Biden’s State of the Union, new Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders shared how she immediately took action in office to ban critical race theory in schools. On Wednesday, Sanders also said she would be releasing “an education package that will be the most far-reaching, bold conservative education reform in the country.” 

Just as two more states established universal voucher programs in January, Sanders alluded her reforms would be tied to school choice policies.

This article originally appeared in

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