TELL CONGRESS TO SUPPORT THE REDUCING BARRIERS TO LEARNING ACT! (REPOST)

This is a repost from AATA

Important legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that the Governmental Affairs Committee believes will help elevate the image and importance of art therapists within the elementary and secondary school environment, within the policies and programs of the federal Department of Education, and
within many state education agencies. The Reducing Barriers to Learning Act (H.R. 1940) was introduced on May 9, 2013, by Representative David
Loebsack (D-Iowa) to increase access by elementary and secondary students to specialized instructional support services and personnel, such as art therapists, that address the nonacademic needs of students and help reduce barriers to learning.

As the accompanying summary provides, H.R. 1940 seeks to recognize the terms “specialized instructional support services” and “specialized instructional support personnel” as the appropriate references for school-based mental health and social service programs in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and create an
Office of Specialized Instructional Support within the federal Department of Education. The bill also provides matching grants to state education agencies to hire and support state-level coordinators to promote and assist specialized instructional support services programs in local schools. In addition, the bill includes language
identifying the benefits of art therapy, and creative arts therapies in general, within the K-12 educational environment.

Rep. Loebsack has introduced the bill in advance of consideration of legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act by the Education and Workforce Committee. He is asking supporting organizations to obtain as many House cosponsors for H.R. 1940 as possible to help persuade the Committee to
include it as part of the reauthorization bill, or possibly within a mental health bill that could be considered as part of compromise legislation to deal with gun violence.

WE NEED YOUR HELP – Request that your Representative cosponsor and support H.R. 1940.

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO:
 Send a version of the accompanying sample letter to your House Member. (You can identify House Members by zip codes at http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/).
 Insert a statement identifying yourself as a constituent (either where you live, work, or both) and any professional information that explains your interest in, and knowledge of, the issues addressed by the legislation.
 Make sure to include your contact information (both mailing and email addresses).
 Let us know what legislators you have contacted at publicpolicy@arttherapy.org.

For additional information, contact Dean Sagar, at dsagar@arttherapy.org.American Art Therapy Association ▪ 4875 Eisenhower Avenue, Suite 240, Alexandria, VA 22304 – http://www.americanarttherapyassociation.org ▪ Phone – (888) 290-0878. (703) 548-5860 ▪ E-mail – info@arttherapy.org

REDUCING BARRIERS TO LEARNING ACT (H.R. 1940)
Sponsor: Representative David Loebsack (D-Iowa) Introduced: May 9, 2013

Bill Summary:
The Reducing Barriers to Learning Act seeks to increase student access to specialized instructional support services and personnel such as art therapists that address the nonacademic needs of students and reduce barriers to learning, including depression, low self-esteem, grief and loss, learning disabilities, and speech and language
disorders. H.R. 1940 would accomplish this through the following actions:

Federal Office of Specialized Instructional Support: Establish a new Office of Specialized Instructional Support within the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) that would be responsible for improving specialized instructional support services in schools to better address barriers to student learning. The Office would have specific responsibilities for identifying scientifically based specialized instructional support services and providing technical assistance in effective delivery of such services to State Specialized Instructional Support Coordinators and state and local education agencies. It would therefore provide a direct support center and information referral point for the art therapy profession within the DOE.

Reduced Barriers to Learning State Grants Program: Amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to authorize the Secretary of Education to award competitive matching grants to states to establish and expand specialized instructional support services and programs at the State level. Grant funds would be used to hire and
support Specialized Instructional Support Coordinators at the state level to provide technical assistance and coordinate specialized instructional support services within local educational agencies and schools. This may provide additional funds for art therapy services in school and in K-12 services referral programs.

Recognition of “Specialized Instructional Support Personnel”: Replace all references in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to “pupil services” and “pupil services personnel” with the terms “specialized instructional support services,” and “specialized instructional support personnel.” Define such services as those
provided by school counselors, social workers, school psychologists, and “other qualified professional personnel involved in providing assessment, diagnosis, counseling, educational, therapeutic, and other necessary services” as part of a comprehensive program to meet student needs. The American Art Therapy Association is actively involved with NASISP, the alliance of organizations representing specialized instructions support services personnel, and seeks to influence the inclusion of art therapy as a listed, qualified profession.

Specific Reference to Art Therapy: The statement of Congressional findings in H.R. 1940 includes the following statement recognizing the benefits of art therapy and other creative arts therapies in promoting academic success and reducing barriers to learning among school-age children: “Use of creative arts therapies (including art therapy, dance/movement therapy, and music therapy) promote learning and skill acquisition (including enhanced literacy skills), increased attention, improved behavior, increased socialization, improved receptive/expressive language, self-expression, and a more positive attitude for learning.” This statement
provides an opportunity to increase the visibility of the art therapy profession within the K-12 educational environment. American Art Therapy Association ▪ 4875 Eisenhower Avenue, Suite 240, Alexandria, VA 22304

http://www.americanarttherapyassociation.org ▪ Phone – (888) 290-0878. (703) 548-5860 ▪ E-mail – info@arttherapy.org

SAMPLE LETTER –

Requesting Members of the House of Representatives to Cosponsor H.R. 1940, the Reducing Barriers to Learning Act

The Honorable {Member of Congress’ Full Name}

U.S. House of Representatives – Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative {Last Name}:

I am writing to urge you to cosponsor and support the Reducing Barriers to Learning Act of 2013 (H.R. 1940) to improve access to specialized instructional support services in our nation’s schools that have proven effective in reducing physical, mental, and behavioral barriers to learning.
As an art therapist practicing in {your City, or your School District or organization and location}, I am well aware of the needs of school-aged children who are academically and socially at risk due to a variety of cognitive and emotional problems. Many art therapists work directly with elementary and secondary school
children in various capacities as part of comprehensive programs to provide assessment, diagnostic, counseling, educational, and therapeutic services to meet the needs of individual students. Use of creative arts therapies has been proven effective in many school systems in promoting learning and skills acquisition, improving students’
attention and behavior, improving self-expression, and helping to create more positive attitudes for learning.

H.R. 1940 would recognize, for the first time in Federal law, the important role of professionals such as art therapists who provide specialized instructional support services in schools by including and defining the term “specialized instructional support services” in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. Equally
important, it would create an Office of Specialized Instructional Support within the Department of Education to improve the delivery and coordination of specialized instructional support services in the nation’s schools. The bill also authorizes the Secretary of Education to award competitive matching grants to state educational
agencies to improve support and coordination of specialized instructional support services and help build the capacity of local education agencies to develop programs and personnel dedicated to providing needed services to at-risk students.

Currently, more than three-quarters of our nation’s schools have a coordinator of mental health and social services in the school, and nearly two-thirds of school districts have a coordinator who plays a similar role. Unfortunately, less than half of the states have a state-level coordinator of school mental health and social
services programs, and there is no individual or office at the federal level to oversee and promote these services and programs within the Department of Education, between the Department and other Federal agencies, or between Federal agencies and state education agencies. Recent tragedies have reinforced the pressing need to strengthen access to mental health and other nonacademic support services for children and young adults. H.R. 1940 would address the need for improved coordination of services at the federal, state, and local levels and assure that quality mental health and social services programs are available for all students who need them.

I urge you to cosponsor and support this important legislation.
Sincerely,
MAKE SURE TO INCLUDE YOUR CONTACT INFORMATION {Mailing & email addresses}.

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