3 Things Families Should Know About ARPA (The American Rescue Plan Act)

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) into law. ARPA will send $129 billion into the US K-12 public education system. In the words of my dear friend, that is a lot of coin for our children to get their needs met. 

The federal funding marks an important moment for parents and our communities as it opens up an opportunity to meet the unique needs of our most vulnerable students. ARPA sets up an Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) in the amount of $123 billion. Now, we need the power of parent advocates to make sure this money reaches the students and families that need it most. 

Our school system needs family voices to amplify the needs of our students, and make sure that decision-makers send these billions of dollars to serve the families that need them. Here are three things about ARPA every family should know: 

  1. Maintenance of Effort and Equity: Maintenance of Effort and Equity was put into the American Rescue plan to ensure the state government uses this money to add more funding to our education systems. These provisions are meant to ensure our schools get the same portions of state funding, and that the funding goes to schools that need it most. If your school district tells you these funds are going to be used to replace regular funding, know that this is in violation of the law. Alert your state department of education! This money is meant to provide our students with extra post-pandemic support. 
  2. Flexibility in Funds: Under ARPA, local education agencies (LEA) must save at least 20% of ESSER funds to address learning loss through evidence-based interventions. Nationwide, school districts will decide where $87.8 billion, or 80% of funds, will go. This money is meant to be based off local needs and priorities as outlined in SEC.2001.e.2. Families should immediately start vocalizing their needs to their school board members and their local district as we move into reopening schools. 
  3. Mental Health Support: At least 20 percent of funds received by an LEA should be used to provide mental health services and support, including through the implementation of evidence-based full-service community schools. The definition of a full service community school is one that allows access to mental health services for students, families, and the community. This can also include access before and after school hours, and in the summer. 

These are not the only provisions within the American Rescue Plan, but this is a place to start as we uplift the needs of Latinx students in our school systems.

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Danielle Guillen

Danielle Guillen

Danielle learned the power of community and education growing up in the Inland Empire. Her parents worked tremendously hard to transfer her to an elementary school outside of her neighborhood school. It was this small act of attending a better elementary school that affected the entire trajectory of Danielle’s life. She would not realize how impactful her parents' decision was until she was accepted into Yale University. As a first generation college student at Yale University, Danielle realized her family was not alone in their struggle to access equitable educational opportunities. Her desire to extend equitable education opportunities to families, like her own, led her to become a secondary teacher on the Navajo Nation where she experienced first hand the barriers low income rural families face to accessing high quality education. In her role as the Director of Organizing and Policy for Los Angeles Unified Board District 5, Danielle intimately understood the state of education in the second largest school system in the United States and the urgency to make sure that half a million children have access to equitable education In her current role as Director at a national nonprofit, she works with elected leaders, executive directors, and community organizers across the nation to ensure that students have access to an equitable education. She enjoys hikes, yoga, and essential oils.

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