Policy Update: June 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

Spotlights on SRCD U.S. Policy Fellows

Ann Partee, Ed.M., is a SRCD State Policy Pre-doctoral Fellow who is placed in the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) Office of Early Childhood. Read about her work leading the effort to develop a statewide tool to systematically assess the quality of professional development for preschool teachers of the Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI).

Parisa Parsafar, Ph.D., is a SRCD Federal Congressional Policy Fellow who is placed in the office of Senator Christopher Coons. Read about how she works with different stakeholders to jointly shape the policy making process and her contributions to various legislative products related to education and health policy. 

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 and abstracts describing their work.

New Child Evidence Brief on Firearms and Suicide Released 

SRCD has recently released a new Child Evidence Brief, “Access to Firearms Increases Child and Adolescent Suicide,” which summarizes the suicide risk associated with firearm possession in homes with children. Evidence shows that the suicide risk can be reduced, though not eliminated, by storing firearms locked, unloaded, and separate from ammunition. Learn more about Child Evidence Briefs.


Legislative Branch Updates

Police Reform Update

Justice in Policing Act Passes House
On June 25, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 7120, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 with a 236-181 vote. H.R. 7120 addresses public demand for police reform and law enforcement accountability in the United States.

The House bill includes provisions that would:

  • Reform police training and policies to restrict the deadly use of force
  • Prohibit law enforcement agents and agencies from engaging in racial profiling
  • Restrict state and local governments’ access to funds, under the Byrne Grant Program or the COPS Grant Program, if they do not establish laws that prohibit law enforcement officers from using chokeholds or carotid holds 
  • Restrict state and local governments’ access to funds, under the COPS grant program, if they do not establish laws that prohibit the use of no-knock warrants in drug cases

The Senate recently introduced S.3985, the “Just and Unifying Solutions to Invigorate Communities Everywhere Act of 2020,” a separate police reform bill. At this point, it is not clear if or when the Senate will consider the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020.

COVID-19 Update

House Committee Holds Hearing on How COVID-19 Widened Racial Inequities in Education, Health, and the Workforce
On June 22, the House Committee on Education and Labor held a hearing, “Inequities Exposed: How COVID-19 Widened Racial Inequities in Education, Health, and the Workforce.” Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) opened the hearing by stating, “A mountain of evidence has made it clear that, to effectively respond to the pandemic, we must address the widened existing racial inequities in education, the workforce, and our health care system.” To illustrate, Chairman Scott described examples of racial inequities: when COVID-19 required closing schools, “Black and Latino students were less likely to attend schools that had the capacity to rapidly establish high-quality distance learning programs. They [were] also less likely to have the basic technology…to access virtual learning.” He concluded his statement by outlining key measures in the HEROES Act (a proposed COVID-19 response package) that was crafted to address these racial inequities. Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) then followed with her opening statement, “The coronavirus and related state-imposed shutdowns have caused devastating job losses and unemployment rates not seen since the Great Depression…The nation’s economic recovery and path to prosperity for all Americans is contingent upon reopening our nation’s schools and businesses safely and responsibly.”

Expert witnesses then discussed how existing racial inequities have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, the COVID-19 death rate for Black Americans is 2.3 times higher than White Americans; Black and Latinx workers are overrepresented in essential frontline work with higher risks of infection and are less likely to have health insurance or access to paid family and medical leave; nursing home residents make up 0.6% of the U.S. population, yet make up 42% of the deaths related to COVID-19, and these residents are disproportionately poor, non-White, and use Medicaid; and school districts with predominately White students spend almost $2,000 more per student every year than districts with predominately Black, Latinx, and Native American students. Witnesses provided several recommendations, including: the federal government should develop a national system of testing and contact tracing with targeted efforts in underinvested communities; Congress should allocate additional funding for K-12 education and higher education to minimize the impact of state and local education budget cuts; and Congress should provide funding to expand broadband access to ensure all students can access distance learning during the pandemic. 

Witnesses included: Camara P. Jones, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., Adjunct Professor, Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, Senior Fellow, Adjunct Associate Professor, Morehouse School of Medicine; Valerie Rawlston Wilson, Ph.D., Director, Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy, Economic Policy Institute; Avik Roy, Co-Founder and President, The Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity; and Dr. John B. King, Jr., President and CEO, The Education Trust. View the full recording and read witness testimony.

Additional Hearings of Interest

House Committee Holds Hearing on Impact of COVID-19 on Public Education
On June 15, the House Committee on Education and Labor held a hearing on “Budget Cuts and Lost Learning: Assessing the Impact of COVID-19 on Public Education.” Witnesses included: Michael Leachman, Ph.D., Vice President for State Fiscal Policy, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; Rebecca Pringle, Vice President, National Education Association; Mark Johnson, Superintendent of Public Instruction, North Carolina Department of Public Instruction; and Eric Gordon, Chief Executive Officer, Cleveland Metropolitan School District. View the full recording and read witness testimony.

Senate Committee Holds Hearing on COVID-19: Going Back to School Safely
On June 4, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held a hearing on “COVID-19: Going Back to College Safely.” Witnesses included Mitchell Daniels, Jr., J.D., President, Purdue University; Christina Paxson, Ph.D., President, Brown University; Logan Hampton, Ph.D., President, Lane College; and Georges Benjamin, M.D., MACP, FACEP(E), FNAPA, Executive Director, American Public Health Association. View the full recording and read witness testimony.

House Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Child Care Crisis and the Coronavirus Pandemic
On June 23, the Subcommittee on Worker and Family Support of the House Committee on Ways and Means held a hearing on “The Child Care Crisis and the Coronavirus Pandemic.” Witnesses included: Rasheed Malik, Senior Policy Analyst, Center for American Progress; Regina McChriston, Essential Worker, Illinois; Aaliyah Samuel, Ed.D., Executive Vice President of Government Affairs and Partnerships, Northwest Evaluation Association and Non-Resident Fellow, Harvard Center for the Developing Child; and Jennifer Sullivan, Secretary, Indiana Family and Social Services Administration. View the full recording and read witness testimony.


Executive Branch Updates


President Trump Issues Proclamation Suspending Specific Work Visas
On June 22, President Donald Trump issued a “Proclamation Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak.” The order expands the suspension of temporary worker visas, including: H-1B visas, H-2B visas, L-1 visas, and certain H-4 and J-1 visas through December 31, 2020. Read the full proclamation for more information.

President Trump Signs Executive Order on Safe Policing for Safe Communities
On June 16, President Donald Trump issued an “Executive Order on Safe Policing for Safe Communities,” that states, “Law enforcement officers provide the essential protection that all Americans require to raise their families and lead productive lives. The relationship between our fellow citizens and law enforcement officers is an important element in their ability to provide that protection. By working directly with their communities, law enforcement officers can help foster a safe environment where we all can prosper.”

The executive order includes recommendations that would better inform law enforcement practices and foster community engagement through “training and technical assistance required to adopt and implement improved use-of-force policies and procedures, including scenario-driven de-escalation techniques;” and “programs aimed at developing or improving relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve, including through community outreach and listening sessions, and supporting nonprofit organizations that focus on improving stressed relationships between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve;” among others. 

Read the full executive order for more information.

Sethuraman Panchanathan Officially Appointed NSF Director
On June 18, Sethuraman Panchanathan was officially appointed the 15th Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF). On his first day in office, Director Panchanathan released a statement stating, “Right now, the world faces significant scientific challenges -- most obviously a pandemic… But in addition to providing creative solutions to address current problems, our eyes are on the future, leveraging partnerships at every level and encouraging diversity that breeds new ideas for a robust pipeline of young scientists. It is only through that expansive perspective on the scientific and engineering enterprise that we can recognize the brightest ideas and nurture them into tomorrow's world-class technological innovations.” Read the National Science Foundation’s news release for more information about the Director’s vision.

National Advisory Child Health and Human Development Council Holds Meeting
On June 11, the National Advisory Child Health and Human Development (NACHHD) Council met virtually. The NACHHD Council provides the Director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) with recommendations on NICHD’s research priorities and support for research activities.

View the recording and read the meeting agenda for more information about the NACHHD Council meeting. The next council meeting will be held on September 10th.


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) Employment and Training Programs Serving Low-Income Populations: Next Steps for Research. This report builds on an OPRE roundtable held in January 2019 on the status of and future directions for research on improving the economic prospects of low-income populations.  

(2) Supporting Program Progress: Performance Measures, Data System, and Technical Assistance for the 2020 Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood Grantees. This report describes the process to review the existing performance measures and data collection system for Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood (HMRF) grantees and identifies improvements as well as planned changes for the next cohort of HMRF grantees.

(3) Assessing the Benefits of Delayed Sexual Activity: A Synthesis of the Literature. This report synthesizes the current research literature on the benefits of delayed sexual activity among adolescents.

(4) Empowering Families: Implementation of an Integrated HMRE, Employment, and Financial Literacy Program for Low-Income Couples. This report presents findings on The Parenting Center’s experiences designing and implementing Empowering Families, a program developed to offer integrated Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education (HMRE) and economic stability services to couples raising children together.

(5) 2020-2025 Family Self-Sufficiency and Stability Research Scholars Network (FSSRN) Grantees. This report summarizes the current cohort of FSSRN grantees’ projects awarded in January 2020 for a 60-month project period.

(6) Health Profession Opportunity Grants 2.0: Year Four Annual Report (2018–2019). This report describes results for participants in the second round of the Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG) Program from the beginning of the Program through the end of Year 4 (September 30, 2015 through September 29, 2019).

(7) Child and Family Development Research - Fiscal Year 2019. This report describes the research and evaluation activities undertaken by OPRE’s Division of Child and Family Development in 2019.

(8) Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention in Fatherhood Programs. This report provides background information on the consequences of domestic violence for families and children, describes domestic violence prevention and intervention efforts in the context of fatherhood programming, and provides examples of promising practices used by fatherhood programs to help prevent and address domestic violence.

(9) Domestic Violence Referral Guide for Fatherhood Programs. This report provides information to help fatherhood program practitioners better understand what referrals are appropriate for participants who have used or survived domestic violence.

(10) Answering More Child Care Policy Questions: Pairing Stakeholder Perspectives with Your Data. This webinar is designed to support Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) Lead Agency staff and partners in understanding how stakeholder perspectives can be paired with agency data to help answer more policy questions.

(11) Healing and Supporting Fathers: Principles, Practices, and Resources for Fatherhood Programs to Help Address and Prevent Domestic Violence. This report provides principles, practices, and helpful resources for addressing and preventing domestic violence (DV) in fatherhood programs. This report includes three additional resources, which are listed below:  

  • Resource 1: Ten Ways to Engage Fathers in Addressing and Preventing Domestic Violence. This resource provides suggested ways that fatherhood program staff can enhance program practices to engage fathers in addressing and preventing domestic violence. 
  • Resource 2: Teachable Moments. This resource provides four scenarios that demonstrate and provide guidance on how fatherhood programs can address and prevent domestic violence.
  • Resource 3: Six Ways Fatherhood Programs Can Successfully Partner with Domestic Violence Agencies and Battering Intervention Programs. This resource provides recommendations on ways for fatherhood programs to connect and strengthen relationships with community partner organizations that address domestic violence and battering intervention.

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) Individuals Experiencing Homelessness are Likely to Have Medical Conditions Associated with Severe Illness From COVID-19. This report uses a proprietary dataset of electronic health records to describe the prevalence rates of chronic health conditions associated with a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 among people with a history of homelessness.

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) Process Data From the 2017 NAEP Grade 8 Mathematics Assessment. This report describes the contents of the first-ever National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) release of a response process dataset from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

(2) STEM Occupational Intentions: Stability and Change Through High School. This report provides information about the occupational expectations of high school freshmen in 2009 and how their expectations changed (or did not) by the spring of 2012.

(3) How States and Districts Support Evidence Use in School Improvement. This report describes what guidance states provided on improvement strategies and how districts selected such strategies in lowest-performing schools.

(4) Male and Female High School Students’ Expectations for Working in a Health-Related Field. This report uses data from the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 to examine freshmen high school students’ expectations for a job in healthcare at age 30 compared to their expectations when most were juniors.

(5) Students in Subbaccalaureate Health Sciences Programs: 2015–2016. This report examines the enrollment and demographic characteristics of students enrolled in subbaccalaureate (certificate and associate’s degree) health sciences programs.

(6) Health and STEM Career Expectations and Science Literacy Achievement of U.S. 15-Year-Old Students. This report uses U.S. data from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) and details the percentage, and reports the average score, of students who foresee either a career in health fields or in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.

(7) Cost Analysis: A Starter Kit. This report is designed for grant applicants who are new to cost analysis. 

(8) Projections of Education Statistics to 2028. This report provides national-level data on public and private elementary and secondary school enrollment, number of elementary and secondary teachers, high school graduates, expenditures at the elementary and secondary level, and enrollment and degrees at the postsecondary level for the past 15 years and projections to the year 2028. 


U.S. Federal Funding Opportunities

The June 2020 FFO lists over 100 funding opportunities for research, evaluation, and dissemination. Below we highlight a few funding opportunities from this month's FFO:

(1) NIH: Collaborative Centers in Children's Environmental Health Research and Translation. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) invites grant applications from institutions/organizations that propose to build a center charged with developing effective strategies to translate key children's environmental health research findings to relevant stakeholders in the community, academia and practice. Applications are due by November 23, 2020.

(2) NIH: Community Interventions to Address the Consequences of the COVID-19 Pandemic among Health Disparity and Vulnerable Populations. This FOA encourages applications to implement and evaluate community interventions testing 1) the impacts of mitigation strategies to prevent COVID-19 transmission in NIH-designated health disparity populations and other vulnerable groups; and 2) already implemented, new, or adapted interventions to address the adverse psychosocial, behavioral, and socioeconomic consequences of the pandemic on the health of these groups. Applications are due by August 28, 2020.

(3) NIH: Mid-Career Enhancement Awards to Integrate Basic Behavioral, Biomedical, and/or Social Scientific Processes. This FOA invites applications from investigators who strive to expand their research trajectories through the acquisition of new knowledge and skills in the areas of basic psychological processes, sociological processes, and/or biomedical pathways—expertise that is beyond and enhances their current areas of expertise. Applications are due by March 17, 2021.

(4) NIH: Neuroscience Development for Advancing the Careers of a Diverse Research Workforce. This FOA is intended to support educational activities that encourage individuals from diverse backgrounds, including those from groups underrepresented in the biomedical and behavioral sciences, to pursue further studies or careers in research. Applications are due by January 25, 2021.

Read about these and other funding opportunities.