Policy Update: January 2020

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

Spotlight on SRCD U.S. State Policy Fellow

Alicia Miao, Ph.D., is a former SRCD U.S. State Policy Post-doctoral Fellow who was placed in the Early Learning Division, Oregon Department of Education. Read about her work with a Researcher-Practitioner Partnership (the Partnership for Preschool Improvement, PPI-RPP) to improve publicly funded preschool programming in Oregon.
Are you interested in learning about the contributions that other past SRCD State Policy Fellows have made at their placements? Visit the SRCD website to read abstracts describing their work.

New Social Policy Report

SRCD has recently released a new Social Policy Report, “Leveraging Research on Informal Learning to Inform Policy on Promoting Early STEM,” by Dr. Michelle Hurst and colleagues. The report focuses on the opportunity of informal Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) learning for young children to better prepare them for school-based STEM learning and describes recommendations on how to incorporate early STEM learning in informal learning spaces.

Register Now: Webinar on Forensic Interviewing Guidelines: Questioning Immigrant Children

Best-Practice Forensic Interviewing Guidelines: Implications for Questioning Immigrant Children
Tuesday, February 18, 12:00-1:00pm Eastern

In this webinar, key areas of consensus from scientific research on forensic interviewing will be reviewed with an eye toward recommendations that are applicable to questioning of immigrant children and adolescents who arrive at U.S. borders. Topics covered include:

  • Types of information elicited from immigrant children relevant to their immigration status.
  • Child and interview characteristics that reduce children’s disclosure and accuracy.
  • Interview methods that may overcome barriers to disclosure and increase accuracy.
  • Types of training and supervision that would be necessary for adequate interviewing of immigrant child populations.

Webinar presenters include Drs. Jodi Quas and Thomas Lyon, authors of the SRCD Child Evidence Brief, “Questioning Unaccompanied Immigrant Children: Lessons from Developmental Science on Forensic Interviewing.” This webinar is co-hosted by SRCD and the University-based Child and Family Policy Consortium.


  • Jodi Quas, Ph.D., Professor, University of California, Irvine
  • Thomas Lyon, J.D., Ph.D., Professor, University of Southern California Gould School of Law
  • Carson Scott, M.Ed., Law Student, Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project

Register Now


Legislative Branch Updates


FY20 & FY21 Appropriations: FY20 Appropriations Signed into Law, FY21 Appropriations Awaits Action

As reported in the December 2019 Policy Update, two large spending packages for fiscal year (FY) 2020, including all 12 appropriations bills, were signed into law in December. To see a full breakdown of the FY20 funding levels, read the analysis by the Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA). Congress is expected to receive the White House’s FY21 budget proposal on February 10 and will begin the appropriations process soon after. However, with the approaching elections in November, it is likely that progress on FY21 appropriations will be slow as policymakers balance their priorities.


Additional Hearings of Interest

Housing Committee Hearing: DHS Efforts to Prevent Child Deaths in Custody

On January 14, the Subcommittee on Border Security, Facilitation, & Operations of the House Committee on Homeland Security held a hearing, “Assessing the Adequacy of DHS Efforts to Prevent Child Deaths in Custody.” Witnesses included: Brian Hastings, Chief, Law Enforcement Operations, U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Department of Homeland Security; and Dr. Alex Eastman, MD, MPH, FACS, FAEMS, Senior Medical Officer, Operations, Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office, U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Watch the full recording and read witness testimony.


Executive Branch Updates


National Academies Release Report on Programs Targeting Adolescent Health Behaviors and Outcomes

On December 12, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) released a report on programs that promote adolescent health behaviors and outcomes. The report, Promoting Positive Adolescent Health Behaviors and Outcomes: Thriving in the 21st Century, was conducted in response to a request from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH).

The committee conducted a systematic review of programs that promote positive adolescent behaviors and outcomes, with a focus on tobacco use, alcohol use, and sexual behavior. The report first reviews normative adolescent development and health outcomes using an optimal health framework. The normative and adaptive nature of risk-taking and exploration in adolescence was highlighted, distinguishing between healthy risk-taking and unhealthy risk behaviors. The report then reviews adolescent health behavior programs. Although the evidence base was insufficient to identify core components of adolescent health promotion programs, the committee did find strengths across programs. The report identified the promise of social-emotional learning and positive youth development programs that provide youth with foundational skills to improve impulse control and self-regulation. Further, the review also noted the ability of programs focused on specific health behaviors (e.g., substance use prevention, inclusive sex education) to build on these foundational skills. Programs that target social determinants of health and involve youth, families, and communities were also found to have widespread positive effects, including reductions in health disparities.

The report offers three specific recommendations and two promising approaches for adolescent health research and effective implementation of federal programming. First, HHS should fund research to identify and evaluate core components of programs and interventions to enable shorter duration programs that may have wider use. Second, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should update and expand the Youth Risk Behavior Survey to include out-of-school youth and a more comprehensive list of sexual risk behaviors. Third, OASH should fund universal, holistic, and multi-component programs that meet specific criteria. The two promising approaches are a) the implementation and evaluation of policies and practices that promote inclusiveness and equity, and b) the inclusion of diverse youth in program decision-making processes.  Read the NAS report, including the full set of recommendations and promising approaches.

Federal Data Strategy and 2020 Action Plan

On January 7, the White House released its 2020 Action Plan for the Federal Data Strategy. The Federal Data Strategy, developed by the White House Office of Management and Budget, outlines 20 principles and 40 best practices to support data innovation and guide federal agencies over the next decade. The 2020 Action Plan is comprised of 20 actions to be taken by agencies, groups of agencies with common practices, and across the government throughout the next year. The agency actions include six steps to establish plans and processes for managing and leveraging data at the agency level. The four actions to be undertaken by groups of agencies with common practices include strategies to integrate and coordinate data-related initiatives and efforts. The ten government-wide actions include pilot projects to evaluate tools and services that can eventually be used by all agencies. Read the Federal Data Strategy and 2020 Action Plan.


Additional Updates of Interest

White House Nominates Next NSF Director: Sethuraman Panchanathan

On December 19, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan to be the next Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF). Dr. Panchanathan is currently the Executive Vice President and the Chief Research and Innovation Officer at Arizona State University and would succeed the current NSF director, Dr. France Córdova, in March 2020.  Read the full announcement.

Request for Comment: Repositories for Managing and Sharing Data Resulting from Federally Funded Research

On January 17, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy issued a request for comment on a “draft set of desirable characteristics of data repositories used to locate, manage, share, and use data resulting from Federally funded research.” The deadline to submit a comment is March 6, 2020. Read more information and submit a comment.

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 Cognitive-Behavioral Techniques to Employment Programming for Fathers: Findings from the B3 Study. This report presents the first systematic analysis of the implementation of the fatherhood intervention program, Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Justice Involved Individuals Seeking Employment (CBI-Emp), an intervention included in the Building Bridges and Bonds (B3) process study.

(2) Implementing an Innovative Parenting Program for Fathers: Findings from the B3 Study. This report presents the first systematic analysis of the implementation of the fatherhood intervention program, Just Beginning (JB), an intervention included in the Building Bridges and Bonds (B3) process study.

(3) Portfolio of Research in Welfare and Family Self-Sufficiency: Fiscal Year 2019. This portfolio of research describes all of the active or newly funded projects of OPRE’s Division of Economic Independence in fiscal year 2019.

(4) Home and Community Native Language and Cultural Experiences Among AI/AN Children in Region XI Head Start: Findings from the American Indian and Alaska Native Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey 2015. This report describes the Native language and cultural experiences of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) children in Region XI Head Start.

(5) The Subsidized and Transitional Employment Demonstration: Cost Analysis of the Minnesota Subsidized and Transitional Employment Demonstration (MSTED). This report presents the findings from a per-person cost study of MSTED, a subsidized employment program in Minnesota.

(6) The Subsidized and Transitional Employment Demonstration: Cost Analysis of the STEP Forward Program. This report presents the findings from a cost study of STEP Forward, a voluntary program in San Francisco that aimed to connect low-income job seekers to the labor market by using public funds to temporarily subsidize individuals’ wages. 

(7) Home Visiting Evidence of Effectiveness (HomVee) Review: Executive Summary & Brief - December 2019. This report presents the latest updates to the HomVEE review of home visiting program models that serve families with pregnant women and children from birth to age five.

New Report from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation

A new publication is available from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

(1) Challenges in Providing Substance Use Disorder Treatment to Child Welfare Clients in Rural Communities. This report summarizes the challenges involved in serving rural child welfare-involved families with substance use issues.

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) Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 2019. This report draws on a wide array of surveys and administrative datasets to present statistics on high school dropout and completion rates at the state and national levels. 

(2) Enrollment Rates of Children in Universal Prekindergarten Programs in Vermont in 2016/17. This report describes a study intended to examine the enrollment patterns in Vermont's universal, mixed-delivery prekindergarten program and the child characteristics associated with the likelihood of being enrolled in different program types.

(3) What Is the Price of College? Total, Net, and Out-of-Pocket Prices in 2015–16. This report describes four measures of the price of undergraduate education in the 2015–16 academic year: total price of attendance (tuition and living expenses), net price of attendance after all grants, out-of-pocket net price after all financial aid, and out-of-pocket net price after all aid excluding student loans.

(4) U.S. Performance on the 2015 TIMSS Advanced Mathematics and Physics Assessments: A Closer Look. This report expands upon results described in the initial “Highlights” report on 2015 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study Advanced (TIMSS Advanced).

(5) Digest of Education Statistics, 2018. This report provides a compilation of statistical information covering the broad field of education from prekindergarten through graduate school.

(6) Homeschooling in the United States: Results from the 2012 and 2016 Parent and Family Involvement Survey (PFI-NHES:2012 and 2016). This report provides data about the experiences of homeschooled students in 2012 and 2016.


U.S. Federal Funding Opportunities

The January 2020 U.S. Federal Funding Opportunities (FFO) lists over 100 funding opportunities for research, evaluation, and dissemination. Below we highlight four funding opportunity announcements (FOA) from this month's FFO:

  • NEA: NEA Research Labs. The National Endowment for the Arts’ (NEA) five-year research agenda aims to build public knowledge about the arts’ contributions to individuals and society. Through NEA Research Labs, NEA extends this agenda and its impact by cultivating a series of transdisciplinary research partnerships, grounded in the social and behavioral sciences, to produce and report empirical insights about the arts for the benefit of arts and also for non-arts sectors such as healthcare, education, and business or management. The Arts Endowment has three special interest areas: 1) The Arts, Health, and Social/Emotional Well-Being; 2) The Arts, Creativity, Cognition, and Learning; and 3) The Arts, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation. Applications are due by March 30, 2020. 
  • NEA: Research Grants in the Arts. Research Grants in the Arts support research that investigates the value and/or impact of the arts, either as individual components of the U.S. arts ecology or as they interact with each other and/or with other domains of American life. Applications are due by March 20, 2020. 
  • HRSA: Children’s Healthy Weight State Capacity Building Program. The purpose of this program is to build state capacity around maternal and child health (MCH) nutrition by increasing the MCH nutrition competency of the state Title V workforce and optimizing MCH nutrition-related data sources to contribute to data-driven programs and activities related to assessment, policy development, and assurance. Applications are due by April 16, 2020.
  • NIH: International Research Scientist Development Award (IRSDA). The purpose of the IRSDA is to provide support and protected time to advanced postdoctoral U.S. research scientists and recently-appointed U.S. junior faculty for an intensive, mentored research career development experience in a low- or middle-income country (LMIC), as defined by the World Bank, leading to an independently-funded research career focused on global health. Applications are due by March 6, 2020.

Read about these and other funding opportunities.