The American Rescue Plan Act: Advocate to Make Your Community Trauma-Informed

Your voice and your actions are needed. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) offers tremendous opportunities for ensuring that various public systems are equipped to identify and respond to the predictable effects of trauma caused during this pandemic era. Congress acknowledged the toll that the pandemic has taken on emotional health and well-being. A word search for “mental health” highlighted the term 30 times throughout the lengthy bill. State and local leaders, like you, can advocate for the resources in the ARPA to be used to support systems-level interventions as part of pandemic relief and recovery.

Some examples include (bill section references provided):

  • K-12 Education: Present a plan to your state and local education decision makers for training and supporting every adult in school settings on how to recognize signs of trauma in children and each other and respond appropriately (Section 2001, Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund).
  • Early Childhood: Make sure your state’s child care leaders and providers know the training, technical assistance and supports that work to address the “mental health needs of children and employees,” which is an allowed use of the funds. (Section 2202, Child Care Stabilization Funding).
  • Hospitals, Clinics, Treatment Providers, Pediatrician Offices: Convince decision makers to apportion funds to provide training, technical assistance and support that results in health care professionals and personnel in all settings knowing how to identify and respond to trauma in their daily interactions with patients, family members, and one another (Sections 2701, 2702, 2703, 2705, 2707, 2711, 2712, 2713, Subtitle H – Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder).
  • Community-Based Mobile Crisis Services: Encourage your state leaders to opt in to the five years of federal financing for Community-Based Mobile Crisis Intervention Services that require a team of health care professionals who “are trained in trauma-informed care, de-escalation strategies and harm reduction.” 
  • Family Strengthening: Work with state leaders to ensure that the unprecedented increase in resources to prevent child maltreatment and stabilize families are delivered through trauma-sensitive approaches, programs, and environments (Sections 2205, Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, and 9101 Emergency Assistance to Families Through Home Visiting Programs).

More generally, the flexibility provided in the bill offers the possibility that leaders can coordinate resources toward the shared goal of ensuring all relevant public systems are trauma-sensitive.

The National Trauma Campaign has a bill summary available and will be hosting a webinar to share more details on the ways provisions in the bill can be directed toward addressing trauma and building resilience. The date and time of the webinar will be announced soon.

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