Policy Update: August 2021

SRCD's Policy Update monitors policy developments in Washington, D.C., including federal priorities for developmental science, and legislation and programs relevant to child development. It also contains information on conferences and training opportunities, new reports, and requests for comments. Policy Update also highlights the work and experiences of SRCD Policy Fellows in the column Spotlight on the SRCD Policy Fellow.

SRCD Child and Family Policy News

Spotlights on the SRCD Policy Fellows - Christian Clesi & Jackie Gross
Christian Clesi, Ph.D., is a SRCD Federal Congressional Policy Fellow who is placed in the Office of Senator Bob Casey (D-PA). Read about how he is applying his prior experience engaging with children with disabilities and their families to working on disability policy initiatives in Congress, including the Law Enforcement Education and Accountability for People with Disabilities (LEAD) Initiative.

Jackie Gross, Ph.D., is a SRCD Federal Executive Branch Policy Fellow who is placed in the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE), Administration for Children and Families (ACF), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Read about how her fellowship work, which includes organizing a federal research briefing series in response to the Executive Order on Supporting the Reopening and Continuing Operation of Schools and Early Childhood Education Providers, has expanded her understanding of the conditions required for research to be impactful for policy and practice.

Are you interested in learning more about the contributions that SRCD U.S. Policy Fellows have made at their placements? Visit the SRCD website to read Spotlights describing the contributions SRCD U.S. Policy Fellows have made at their placements.


SRCD Child and Family Policy Resources

Save the Date: NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Festival
The virtual 2021 NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Festival will take place Thursday, November 18, 2021, and Friday, November 19, 2021 from 1:00 pm – 4:30 pm Eastern each day. According to the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR), OBSSR in collaboration with the NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Coordinating Committee (BSSR-CC) convenes annually to “…inform the wider BSSR community, stakeholders, and NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) about the latest BSSR funded by the NIH and its overall impact and importance across the entire field of biomedical research. Additional goals are to assist the ICs with the establishment of research priorities and the coordination of their programmatic efforts, thus minimizing redundancy and maximizing returns on NIH investments in BSSR.” For more information about past NIH BSSR Festivals, visit OBSSR’s website.


Legislative Branch Updates

House Advances FY 2022 Budget Resolution
On August 11, the U.S. Senate passed S. Con. Res. 14, a Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget resolution with budget reconciliation instructions that would help realize components of President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda. The resolution passed with a 50-49 vote. Of note, the resolution would establish the congressional budget for FY 2022 and provide budgetary levels for FY 2023 – 2031. According to CQ, S. Con. Res. 14 would also “...direct 12 Senate committees and 13 House committees to make recommendations within their respective jurisdictions for budget reconciliation legislation that combined could increase the deficit through fiscal 2031 by up to nearly $1.75 trillion, intended to set up a $3.5 trillion reconciliation package to enact priorities of President Joe Biden's "Build Back Better" plan, including universal prekindergarten; tuition-free community college; Medicare expansion; affordable housing support; establishment of a civilian climate corps; clean energy incentives; and a pathway to citizenship for immigrants.”

This summer, members of Congress pointedly disagreed about whether lawmakers should advance the bipartisan infrastructure bill (H.R. 3684, the “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act”) before or after the reconciliation package. At the time of writing, the U.S. House of Representatives adopted the Senate-passed budget resolution when the House adopted a rule, H. Res. 601, on August 24 with a 220-212 vote. Committees now have until September 15 to prepare legislation for the reconciliation package. For more information about the reconciliation process, read the House Committee on the Budget’s summary.

New Congressional Social Determinants of Health Caucus Seeks Input
The newly formed Congressional Social Determinants of Health Caucus, co-chaired by Congressmembers Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Tom Cole (R-OK), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), and Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), will “... bring together members of Congress from disparate jurisdictions to highlight the opportunities for coordination to improve health outcomes and maximize existing and future federal investments in health, food, housing, transportation, and other important drivers of health.” The Caucus seeks public input on a specific set of questions that address challenges and opportunities related to social determinants of health. Read the call for comments for more information about this request and consider submitting a response by September 21, 2021.

Additional Hearings of Interest

  • Examining Federal Nutrition Programs for Young Children and Infants. On July 28, the Civil Rights and Human Services Subcommittee of the House Education and Labor Committee held a hearing on “Food for Thought: Examining Federal Nutrition Programs for Young Children and Infants.” View the witness list, recording, and read witness testimonies.
  • Strengthening the Pell Grant Program. On July 29, the Higher Education and Workforce Investment Subcommittee of the House Education and Labor Committee held a hearing on “Keeping the Pell Grant Promise: Increasing Enrollment, Supporting Success.” View the witness list, recording, and read witness testimonies.

Executive Branch Updates

NSF Seeks Applications for Assistant Director for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences
The National Science Foundation (NSF) seeks recommendations for the new Assistant Director for Social, Behavioral, and Economic (SBE) Sciences. According to NSF, “The Assistant Director, SBE, leads a Directorate containing the Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS), the Division of Social and Economic Sciences (SES), the SBE Office of Multidisciplinary Activities (SMA), and the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES). Together, the Directorate's portfolio encompasses a broad range of the social, behavioral, and economic sciences with a total budget of nearly $283 million.” Interested parties should send their recommendations by September 13, 2021. For more information about the candidate search, read NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan’s Dear Colleague letter.

NICHD STRIVE for Change Workshop Series: Register Now
The STrategies to EnRich Inclusion and AchieVe Equity (STRIVE) initiative, led by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Office of Health Equity, is an initiative comprised of three committees that address the following areas: “studying health disparities, diversifying the broader scientific workforce, and enhancing [equity, diversity, and inclusion] opportunities within NICHD.” NICHD is hosting a series of workshops, with topics ranging from “STRIVE for Change: Establishing a New Frontier in Health Disparities Research Across the Lifecourse” to “Societal Influences on Health and Health Disparities During Childhood.” To register for an upcoming workshop or watch a videocast recording of an archived workshop, visit NICHD’s website.

CDC Extends COVID-19-Related Eviction Moratorium
On August 3, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order for the moratorium on evictions, extending the moratorium for counties and territories in which COVID-19 has “substantial or high levels of community transmission” until October 3, 2021. Beginning with the CARES Act (signed into law in March 2020), federal, state, and local policy measures have assisted renters during the COVID-19 pandemic, which included a nationwide eviction moratorium that expired on July 31, 2021. Since many evicted renters move into shared housing, other congregate settings, and/or across state lines, these policy efforts aim to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread. The current moratorium is expected to cover nearly 90 percent of all renters. In the order, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, M.D., M.P.H, states “If the moratorium is not in place, a wave of evictions, on the order of hundreds of thousands, could occur in late summer and early fall, exacerbating the spread of COVID-19 among the significant percentage of the population that remains unvaccinated.” Of note, members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus encouraged the Biden Administration to extend the eviction moratorium and called on Congress to pass legislation to protect renters in the future. At the time of writing, the Supreme Court is considering a legal challenge brought by property owners and real estate groups that could block the moratorium. For more information, read the CDC order and a White House statement on the moratorium.

National Science Board Holds Meeting
The National Science Board (NSB), the advisory group that oversees the National Science Foundation (NSF), met on August 3 and 4 (NSB meetings typically take place five times a year). According to the National Science Board, the Board has two important responsibilities: “First, it establishes the policies of NSF within the framework of applicable national policies set forth by the President and the Congress. In this capacity, the Board identifies issues that are critical to NSF's future, approves NSF's strategic budget directions and the annual budget submission to the Office of Management and Budget, and approves new major programs and awards. The second role of the Board is to serve as an independent body of advisors to both the President and the Congress on policy matters related to science and engineering and education in science and engineering.” For information about the most recent National Science Board meeting, read the public agenda and view the recordings.


Federal Reports

New Reports and Briefs from the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation
Several new publications are available from the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE), Administration for Children and Families (ACF), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: 

(1) Applying Insights from Adult Learning Theory to Improve Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood (HMRF) Programming. This report and brief explore how adult learning theory might inform HMRF programming so it can be more engaging and, in turn, more successful in supporting family well-being.

(2) Unpacking Data Use in State Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Agencies. This report summarizes results from a 2019 needs assessment of the capacity of TANF programs in 54 U.S. states and territories to analyze data used for the purposes of program improvement, monitoring, and evidence-building.

(3) Descriptive Data on Region XI Head Start Children and Families: American Indian and Alaska Native Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (AIAN FACES) Fall 2019 Data Tables and Study Design. This report (1) provides information about the AIAN FACES study, including the background, design, methodology, assessments, and analytic methods; and (2) reports detailed descriptive statistics in a series of tables on children and their families. 

(4) How Legal Professionals Can Use the Compendium of Measures and Data Sources: Understanding Judicial Decision-Making and Hearing Quality in Child Welfare. This report explains the Compendium and how it can be a valuable resource for child welfare legal professionals. It highlights the range of research measures, measurement strategies, and data sources used to study judicial decision-making and hearing quality in child welfare cases.

(5) Lessons Learned Delivering Remote Services to Job Seekers with Low Incomes During the COVID-19 Pandemic. This report describes the experiences of three organizations that adapted existing interventions to provide remote work readiness activities or education and training services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

(6) Webinar: Answering More Child Care Policy Questions: Pairing Stakeholder Perspectives with Your Data. This webinar aims to support CCDF Lead Agency staff and their partners in pairing stakeholder perspectives with existing data to answer policy questions and gain a better understanding of possible problems, possible solutions, and how community contexts matter in policy choices and outcomes.

(7) At a Glance Briefs: Region XI Head Start During the COVID-19 Pandemic. These briefs use data from a survey based on COVID-19 from Region XI Head Start program and center directors from June 2, 2020 to July 17, 2020. The briefs explore the following topics: Communicating with Families; New Supports for Staff; and Preparation for Future Emergencies.

New Reports and Briefs from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation
Several new publications are available from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:  

(1) Estimates of Child Care Eligibility and Receipt for Fiscal Year 2018. This report summarizes descriptive information on child care eligibility and receipt, including among children of various ages and demographic backgrounds. 

(2) Foster Care Entry Rates Grew Faster for Infants than for Children of Other Ages, 2011-2018. This report summarizes national, state, and county-level increases in infant foster care entry.

New Reports and Briefs from the Institute of Education Sciences
Several new publications are available from the National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences (IES), U.S. Department of Education: 

(1) U.S. Technical Report and User Guide for the 2018 Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS). This report provides an overview of the design and implementation of TALIS 2018, including describing the aspects of TALIS 2018 that are unique to the United States. 

(2) One Year Later: Relationship Between 2015–16 Bachelor’s Degree Recipient Enrollment in Further Education and Pell Grant Receipt. This report uses data from the 2016/17 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B: 16/17) to examine how Pell Grants for bachelor’s degrees relate to later education.

(3) Using a Survey of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) and School Climate to Inform Decision-making. To measure students' SEL competencies and the school experiences that promote SEL competencies (school climate), the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) began administering annual surveys to students, teachers, and parents in 2017/18. This report describes how the district could use these surveys to improve students' outcomes.

(4) Exploring the Potential Role of Staff Surveys in School Leader Evaluation. For this report, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Educational Laboratory partnered with the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) to explore the potential use of teacher surveys in school leader evaluation.

(5) Effectiveness of Early Literacy Instruction: Summary of 20 Years of Research. This report uses a process modeled after the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) methodology to systematically identify effective early childhood curricula, lesson packages, instructional practices, and technology programs that improve students' performance in six language and literacy domains in studies conducted from 1997 to 2017.


U.S. Federal Funding Opportunities

The August 2021 FFO lists over 100 funding opportunities for research, evaluation, and dissemination. Below we highlight a few funding opportunities from this month's FFO: 

(1) Grant to Provide Higher Education Emergency COVID-19 Relief to Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs): A Department of Education (ED) funding opportunity that will support Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) through grants to (1) defray expenses associated with the coronavirus, including lost revenue, reimbursement for expenses already incurred, technology costs associated with a transition to distance education, faculty and staff training, and payroll; and (2) provide financial aid grants to students. Applications are due by October 1, 2021.

(2) Award to Maximize Career Opportunities for Researchers From Diverse Backgrounds: A National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding opportunity that will support a cohort of early career, independent investigators from diverse backgrounds conducting research in National Institutes of Health (NIH) mission areas through research support, mentoring, networking, and professional development activities. Applications are due by October 27, 2021.

(3) Grant to Study the Effectiveness of School-Based Health Centers for Advancing Health Equity: A National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding opportunity that will support research that investigates the effectiveness of school-based health centers (SBHCs) as a health service care delivery model to address the needs of school-aged children from populations with health disparities. Applications are due by February 5, 2022.

(4) Grant to Study Family Navigator Models for Children and Adolescents: A National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) funding opportunity that will support research to develop and test the effectiveness and implementation of family navigator models designed to promote early access, engagement, coordination and optimization of mental health treatment and services for children and adolescents who are experiencing early symptoms of mental health problems. Applications are due by October 5, 2021.

Read about these and other funding opportunities.