Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence introduced legislation to provide federal funding for counseling services for American school children.
Currently, the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) program serves economically disadvantaged students. Countless studies have shown that the most significant indicator of success at all levels of education is family income. Grants provided through GEAR UP are a vital lifeline for these students who may otherwise have to delay or forego higher education.
GEAR UP’s authorization of appropriations ends this year. To ensure that GEAR UP funding is not disrupted, the congresswoman’s bill, H.R. 3834, GEAR UP for Counseling, which will extend the authorization to 2017 and five subsequent years.
“GEAR UP for Counseling will require federal funding to be allocated for improving academic and mental health counseling services in underserved areas, and ultimately enhance the quality of counseling already available in our schools,” said Lawrence. “The required provision will not only provide critical counseling for students, it will also provide important opportunities for school counselors to work with educators and students in underserved areas.”
Many students face trauma and stress outside the classroom that affect and inhibit their learning ability.
As it stands, Title IV of the Higher Education Act does not require funding to be allocated for providing students access to academic and mental health counseling. H.R. 3834 will give underserved students the counseling service attention they need and deserve.
“Many states are facing graduation rates below the national average, including Michigan – which has a graduation rate of 76%,” said Lawrence. “There is a clear and obvious need for an increase in school counseling services to address the many problems that can and have derailed these students’ academic journeys and dashed their dreams for a bright, successful future.”