Through the passage of three stimulus bills in 2020 and 2021, Congress provided over $190B in relief funding to the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) – $122B coming through the latest act:  American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).  This funding passes through the state educational agencies with 90% of the money going to local educational agencies (LEAs) – i.e. local school districts.

Each state has a plan on how this money is to be spent – with the directive from the federal government that it is to be spent, among other things, to address learning loss.  See here for USDOE Fact Sheet. 

Here’s where you can see what plan and guidance each state is giving to their local districts. 

What does this mean for our school district?  If your school or district is thinking that now is the time to address how trauma impacts learning and how increased trauma through the pandemic is making/will continue to make learning more challenging, you can proactively plan for using this funding to create or accelerate the trauma-informed/resiliency-building shift your school needs.  Here are some creative ways others are using this funding:

  • Professional Development (PD) training for staff — all staff, not just teachers, in understanding trauma’s impact, recognizing trauma-related behaviors/symptoms and using resilience-building strategies for addressing the social and emotional health of students (and of staff!)
  • Increasing key staff to assist in implementing trauma-informed strategies.  This could be more counselors, social workers or mentors…all trained and trauma-informed, of course.
  • Increasing access to counselors and wraparound resources/personnel for all students…but also for staff to remain emotionally healthy/able to support students.
  • Identifying needs of underserved student populations through a trauma-informed and culturally competent lens, and reimagining your district’s plan for addressing these needs.
  • Using trauma-informed consultants and experts to assist with planning, as well as supporting school staff during implementation.
  • Providing on-going training, development and support for staff through PD opportunities such as conferences, webinars and coursework.
If your LEA or school is looking for trauma-informed expertise, training and supports, we invite you to get involved with ATN and our members and collaborators in the following ways:
  1. Check out ATN’s new PD Collaborative – a coalition of organizations and individuals with expertise in training, consulting and coaching educators and school districts in trauma-informed and resilience-building practices. 
  2. Consider attending ATN’s Creating Trauma-Sensitive Schools Conference – in its 5th year and the largest gathering of trauma-informed educators, with both an in-person and virtual option for Feb 2022.
  3. Join ATN…for FREE — educators (school social workers & counselors too) can join ATN for FREE and receive access to members’ only trauma-informed, resilience-building content.
  4. Join the Trauma-Sensitive Schools Think Tank – a private Facebook group moderated by ATN’s Trauma-Sensitive Schools Program where there is on-going discussion of trauma-informed education strategies.  
 For a summary of funding through the American Rescue Plan Act, visit