Federal, state, and local policies play a crucial role in designing school environments so that the healthy choice becomes the easier choice.
Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
ESSA is an update to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, formerly known as “No Child Left Behind”, that recognizes the need for schools to support the whole child and specifically acknowledges the importance of mental health and wellness.
ESSA created a new billion-dollar block grant, with a requirement that districts that receive significant block grant funds spend at least 20 percent of their funding on at least one activity that helps students be safe and healthy. The spending requirements tied to ESSA funds provide an opportunity to tackle health and wellness challenges for those schools that receive federal funds, often referred to as Title 1 schools.
Local School Wellness Policy
All school districts, as well as public charter, private charter and other private schools, participating in a federal meal reimbursement program fall under this requirement to adopt, implement, and regularly report on progress in meeting the goals of their Local School Wellness Policies.
Starting in 2013, California began using a Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) to provide more autonomy to local districts by giving them greater flexibility over how they choose to spend state funding. In exchange for greater flexibility, school districts must provide greater transparency to local communities on how the money will be spent by producing a three-year spending and academic plan called the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP). This funding mechanism aims to improve outcomes by providing more resources to meet the education needs of low-income students, English language learners and children in foster care.