What Americans say about…

Wrapping support around children who need it most

Most Americans say schools should provide wraparound services for students and seek additional public money to pay for them.

Americans express high or very high levels of support for public schools providing wraparound services to students who don’t have access to them elsewhere. That peaks at a near-unanimous 92% who favor after-school programs, often a victim of budget cuts, yet a godsend to working parents. 

Eighty-seven percent also support schools providing mental health services to students who can’t get this help somewhere else, and 79% support offering general health services in such cases. Support for dental services trails, though it is a still considerable 65% support. Moreover, strong support for these services also is substantial, ranging from 48% to 77%. 

Further, 76% of Americans say schools that offer such services are justified in seeking additional public funding to pay for them.

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In terms of seeking public funding to pay for such services, support peaks among liberals (88%), Democrats (85%) and about eight in 10 in other groups — adults under 40, those who give public schools nationally A or B grades, urbanites, and those with household incomes less than $50,000.  

Notably, funding support reaches majorities, albeit smaller ones, among their counterparts — those who call racial or economic diversity unimportant (53% and 55%), and 65% to 70% of strong conservatives, Republicans, rural residents, those who give public schools a failing grade nationally, $100,000+ earners, and seniors.

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In statistical modeling, aside from supporting the services themselves, education is the strongest predictor of saying that asking for extra public funding is justified, while being Republican, or having a child in public school stand out as predictors of saying it’s unjustified.  

A deeper dive

Support for all four wraparound services assessed in the survey was computed using a 1-4 scale, with an average overall score of 3.43 — quite high. Scores are highest among young adults, Democrats, liberals, nonwhites, and those with lower incomes and less education. In statistical modeling, income, and race/ethnicity emerge as the strongest predictors of support for these services, holding other factors constant. 

Among individual items, three-quarters overall strongly feel that public schools should provide mental health services to students who don’t have access to them elsewhere. Strong support is highest (84% to 88%) among under-30s, nonwhites, Democrats, and liberals, while it’s lowest — but still substantial — among seniors (58%), those in $100,000+ households (64%), strong conservatives (65%), and Republicans (68%).

Three-quarters of adults feel strongly that public schools should provide mental health services to students who don't have access to them elsewhere. 

A similar 77% overall strongly support providing after-school programs, but there’s less variation among groups, indicating a broader base of support for this service. 

Two-thirds strongly support providing health services, peaking among blacks (83%) and under-30s (82%), and bottoming out among seniors and Republicans (both 49%), those in $100,000+ households (53%), and strong conservatives and rural residents (both 54%). 

Fewer than half (48%) feel strongly that dental services should be provided. Strong support tops out among blacks and Hispanics (67%) followed by 57% to 59% among Democrats, parents, and liberals; it hits lows among those in $100,000+ households (28%), Republicans (31%), and 36% to 39% of seniors, strong conservatives, those with a college degree, and whites. 

The Questions

  1. Q. Some public schools may offer something called wraparound services that are intended to give students support to succeed at school. For each one I name, please tell me if you think this is something public schools should or should not provide to students who don’t have access to the service somewhere else. First, how about health services? Dental services? Mental health services? After-school programs?
  2. Q. Do you think schools that provide these additional services are or are not justified in seeking additional public funds to pay for them?

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