National Governors Association to Work With 6 States to Meet Social and Emotional Needs of Students and Families

Arkansas, Indiana, Michigan, North Dakota, Oregon, Wisconsin to Advance Whole Child Vision for Students’ Comprehensive Development

The National Governors Association (NGA) will collaborate with Arkansas, Indiana, Michigan, North Dakota, Oregon and Wisconsin on strategies for equitably meeting the social-emotional needs of students and families during and beyond COVID-19.

The NGA Center for Best Practices announced today that it will engage the six states on technical assistance from its staff and national and state partners, as well as grant support to develop and carry out action plans focused on one or more specific state policy priorities related to students’ comprehensive development during and beyond COVID-19.

In addition, Governors’ offices will engage with and learn from peers and national and state experts to advance their policy priorities.

The initiative comes as students and their families confront fear, anxiety, trauma, isolation and stress during COVID-19, as well as growing public concern about economic instability and persistent racial inequities. Governors have increasingly emphasized and prioritized the importance of addressing the holistic needs of students as schools reopen. 

The rapid shift to remote learning brought on by widespread school closures in the spring of 2020 amplified the importance of creating positive and equitable learning environments; building and sustaining strong relationships and engagement among students, their peers, and teachers; and meeting the unique needs of all students, including students with disabilities, English learners, and those experiencing homelessness.

At the same time, the pandemic has also highlighted the need for comprehensive whole child approaches to education grounded in the science of learning and development, including support strategies such as community schools, wraparound services, and parent, family, student and community engagement.

NGA’s work with the six states will run through March 2022.

The states’ initiatives are centered on:

  • Arkansas: a comprehensive plan for addressing the social-emotional and mental and behavioral health needs of students through a comprehensive, multi-agency task force.

  • Indiana: a statewide guide, roadmap and strategic plan for addressing social, emotional and whole-child needs of Indiana students.

  • Michigan: leveraging the Governor’s cross-agency, cross-sector Student Recovery Advisory Council to develop a plan for addressing students’ academic recovery and social-emotional needs during COVID-19, including for summer 2021 and through fall 2021.

  • North Dakota: tying together social-emotional needs and workforce readiness, including through the North Dakota Education to Workforce Pathways through SEL Coalition, as well as building capacity for state to expand and implement North Dakota SEL Network efforts.

  • Oregon: a statewide, school-based vision and delivery model for addressing students’ social, emotional, and mental health needs.

  • Wisconsin: priority initiative for the First Lady and Governor, emphasizing parent and family engagement and focus groups to increase the mental, social and emotional well-being of students and families.