Financing Opportunities to Boost Mental Health Services in Schools in 2023: The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act

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Session Overview: 

The Biden Administration and Congress are showing renewed commitment to improving school-based mental health and substance use disorders services for young people. Through passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (2022), we expect to see new federal guidance (revising policies that have not been updated in almost 20 years), the launch of a school Medicaid technical assistance center, and $50 million in state grants. In this webinar event, Lena O’Rourke (on behalf of Healthy Schools Campaign), Orla Kennedy and Dusan Stojicic (Community Catalyst) will explain how school mental health leaders can leverage these opportunities to improve school-based health services, including meaningfully engaging young people in that process.


Learning Objectives:

By the end of this webinar, participants will be able to:

1. Identify key federal opportunities from the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act for financing school-based mental health and substance use programs for young people. 

2. Identify strategies for engaging leaders at the school, district, and state levels to effectively leverage these financing opportunities

3. Identify ways to meaningfully engage youth when leveraging these federal financing channels to improve school-based health services





Lena O’Rourke (she, her), on behalf of Healthy Schools Campaign

Lena O’Rourke is founder and Principal at O’Rourke Health Policy Strategies. She is an experienced health care policy analyst and strategist focused on expanding access to high quality, affordable health insurance and Medicaid. Her work focuses on national and state policy campaigns to influence legislative and regulatory policy. Lena has worked as a health care and social justice advocate for over 20 years. Most recently, she worked intensively on federal and state policy to expand and strengthen the ability of states and school districts to leverage school Medicaid to support student health and wellness. She leads the Healthy Students, Promising Futures Learning Collaborative (HSPF), a project of Healthy Schools Campaign. In this role, Lena provides support directly to state Medicaid agencies, state departments of education, and school districts on policy opportunities and choices to expand and enhance school-based Medicaid programs. In this role she also works with federal legislators and policymakers to offer support, technical assistance, and to share the experiences of states on school Medicaid.




Orla Kennedy (she, her), Senior Policy Analyst, Community Catalyst

Orla Kennedy is a Senior Policy Analyst for the Substance Use Disorders team at Community Catalyst, where she advocates for policy changes to improve substance use disorders treatment and recovery support services and promote alternatives to incarceration. Orla has experience in policy research and analysis, community engagement, and technical assistance. She has worked at John Snow, Inc., Harvard School of Public Health and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. Orla brings her public health perspective to Community Catalyst, and is passionate about health equity and improving health outcomes for underserved populations. Orla has a Master of Science in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University, and a Bachelor’s from Providence College.



Dusan Stojicic (he, him), Associate Program Director, Community Catalyst

Dusan Stojicic is Associate Director for the Substance Use Disorders and Justice-Involved Populations Program at Community Catalyst as well as an individual with lived experience of substance use disorders. As part of the program, he assists in managing initiatives to ensure that affordable and appropriate prevention, early intervention, and treatment services are available to all. This includes organizing communities, developing policy alternatives, and advocating for change in public policy and regulatory policy. Originally trained as a health economist, Dusan has gained most of his experience in working with communities directly. Dusan holds a Master's degree in Health Economics and Analysis from the Heller School at Brandeis University.    

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