• Sharon Hoover, PhD

Leveraging COVID Relief Funding and Medicaid to Support Staff and Student Well-Being and Connection

Updated: Aug 31, 2021

Sharon Hoover, PhD

Co-Director, National Center for School Mental Health




In 2020 and 2021, Congress passed three stimulus bills that provided over $190 billion to the Elementary and Secondary Emergency Education Relief (ESSER) Fund. The funding to state education agencies (SEA) and local education agencies (LEA) represents a historic opportunity to support the conditions of learning and to address inequities in education.

A wide range of needs that can and should be addressed with ESSER funds. However, it is critical that states and school districts invest resources in efforts that support student and staff wellbeing and connection. This work is more important than ever given the increase in student and staff mental health needs resulting from the pandemic.


While COVID relief funding creates an important opportunity to meet student and staff mental health needs in the short term, there is a need to ensure sustainability of the programs and services that are implemented with this grant funding. Key opportunities, such as leveraging Medicaid and Every Student Succeeds Act Title funding, exist for ensuring the sustainability of supports implemented with COVID relief funding.


In July 2021, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the Health Schools Campaign (HSC), and the National Center for School Mental Health (NCSMH) released a guidance document to inform state and local education authorities about how to best leverage COVID relief and Medicaid funding to improve student and staff well-being. The guidance provides specific examples of how funding can be used and examples of best practices from states and local communities. The guidance may be accessed here.


Please join a webinar on August 11th, 2-3pm Eastern, hosted by CCSSO, HSC, and the NCSMH, to learn more about leveraging federal COVID relief funding and Medicaid to support student and staff well-being. Register here.


Let us commit to harness this moment in time to support the well-being and mental health of our students and school staff now and into the future!