Policy Update: March 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.

Legislative Branch Updates

COVID-19 Updates

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Signed Into Law

On March 27, President Trump signed into law a $2.3 trillion emergency spending package, H.R. 748: Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, to provide critical support to businesses, hospitals, households, and state and local governments, among others, during the COVID-19 pandemic. The House passed the package by voice vote on March 27 after the Senate passed the package with bipartisan support (96-0) on March 25. HR 748 includes several provisions, such as:   

  • U.S. residents whose adjusted gross income is less than $75,000 annually ($150,000 for a married couple), who are not dependents, and have a social security number are eligible for a $1,200 cash payment ($2,400 for a married couple). Individuals are also eligible for an additional cash payment of $500 per child.  
  • The bill establishes a temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program that will run through December 31, 2020, providing payments to individuals who typically are not eligible for unemployment benefits (e.g., self-employed workers). Notably, the bill provides an additional $600 per week to individuals who receive unemployment insurance for a maximum of four months.  
  • The bill increases funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, which will offer loans to small businesses to use towards payroll and operating expenses. Small businesses can apply for a loan by June 30, 2020 and may qualify for loan forgiveness by following certain criteria. 
  • The bill expands the Medicare accelerated payment program, providing reliable financial support to hospitals, and increases the Medicare Add-on for inpatient hospital COVID-19 patients by 20 percent, which will remain available through the COVID-19 emergency period.  
  • The bill also provides additional funds for Child Nutrition Programs and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, ensuring additional funds remain available until September 30, 2021 to respond to COVID-19 domestically or internationally.

H.R. 748 marks the third COVID-19 package signed into law and is the largest economic relief package in recent U.S. history.  Read more information about the CARES Act.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act Signed Into Law

On March 18, President Trump signed H.R. 6201 Families First Coronavirus Response Act into law to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children and families, including provisions related to nutrition and food assistance, emergency paid sick leave, unemployment insurance benefits, and COVID-19 diagnostic testing. The bill provides supplemental FY 2020 appropriations to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for nutrition and food assistance programs, including the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), and provides nutrition assistance grants to U.S. territories. Notably, the bill waives specific work requirements for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients and grants the Secretary of Agriculture with the authority to issue nationwide school meal waivers during the COVID-19 emergency. For example, the bill waives child nutrition program requirements, reducing administrative paperwork for states and streamlining processes for schools during COVID-19 related school closures. The bill also creates a new emergency paid sick leave program for employees who take leave because of COVID-19. Eligible employees are individuals who were employed for at least 30 days before they were affected by COVID-19 and meet certain criteria. Additionally, the bill expands access to unemployment insurance (UI) benefits by providing states with emergency grants to process and pay UI benefits, increases the federal medical assistance percentage, and establishes requirements for free COVID-19 diagnostic testing.

Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act Signed Into Law

On March 6, President Trump signed H.R. 6074 Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020 into law. The bill provides federal agencies with $8.3 billion in emergency funding to cope with the COVID-19 outbreak. H.R. 6074 provides FY 2020 supplemental appropriations for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, thereby supporting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund; the U.S. Department of State; the Small Business Administration; and the U.S. Agency for International Development. In short, H.R. 6074 provides additional appropriations for the development of medical countermeasures and vaccines, global health programs,  and international disaster assistance, offers loans for small businesses affected by COVID-19, and reimburses evacuation and emergency preparedness expenses at State Department facilities.


Additional Hearings of Interest

House Subcommittee Hearing on Combatting Child Poverty in America  

On March 11, the Subcommittee on Workers and Family Support of the House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on “Combating Child Poverty in America.” Witnesses included:  Dolores Acevedo-Garcia, Ph.D., M.P.A-U.R.P, Professor, Human Development and Social Policy, Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University; Marsha Raulerson, M.D., M.Ed., FAAP, Pediatrician; Joy Bivens, Agency Director, Department of Job and Family Services; and Angela Rachidi, Rowe Scholar, Poverty Studies, American Enterprise Institute. View the full recording and read witness testimony.

House Subcommittee Hearing on Paid Sick Leave for U.S. Workers

On March 11, the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections of the House Education and Labor Committee held a hearing on “The Healthy Families Act (H.R. 1784): Examining a Plan to Secure Paid Sick Leave for U.S. Workers.” Witnesses included: Sarah Jane Glynn, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress; Renee Johnson, Senior Government Affairs Manager, Main Street Alliance; Elizabeth Milito, Esq., Senior Executive Counsel, NFIB Small Business Legal Center; Tanya Goldman, J.D., Senior Policy Analyst, Center for Law and Social Policy. View the full recording and read witness testimony.

Congressional Briefing on Ensuring Timely and Safe Family Reunification

On March 4, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFJ) held a congressional briefing on “Ensuring Timely and Safe Family Reunification: A Juvenile and Family Court Judge's Role in Providing Hope for a Better Future.” Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), who sponsored the briefing, highlighted “Five Freedoms for America’s Children” (1) Freedom to be healthy; (2) Freedom to be economically secure; (3) Freedom to learn; (4) Freedom from hunger; and (5) Freedom to be safe from harm. Panelists included: Diana V., a reunified foster youth; Jey Rajaraman, Diana’s parent’s attorney; Judge Ramona A. Gonzalez, La Crosse County Circuit Court and NCJFCJ President; Judge Aurora Martinez Jones, Travis County District Courts and NCJFCJ Board Director; Judge Erik Pitchal, Kings County Family Court and NCJFCJ Member; and Judge John J. Romero, Jr., Second Judicial District Court and NCJFCJ Immediate Past President. The event was moderated by Judge Denise Navarre Cubon, Lucas County Juvenile Court and NCFJC Amicus Council Member. Read about NCJFCJ to learn more about family reunification.

House Subcommittee Hearing on Reducing Child Poverty

On March 3, the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies of the House Committee on Appropriations held a hearing on “Reducing Child Poverty.” Witnesses included: Dolores Acevedo-Garcia, Ph.D., M.P.A-U.R.P, Professor, Human Development and Social Policy; Douglas Besharov, Professor, School of Public Policy, University of Maryland; Cheryl Brunson, Brookland Manor Tenants’ Association, Washington D.C. Poor People’s Campaign; Autumn Burke, Assemblywoman, 62nd Assembly District, California State Assembly; Kathryn Edin, Ph.D., Professor, Sociology and Public Affairs, Princeton University; Irwin Garfinkel, Ph.D., Professor, Contemporary Urban Problems, Columbia University; Matt Weidinger, Rowe Fellow, American Enterprise Institute. View the full recording and read witness testimony.

Senate Committee Hearing on the U.S.’s Response to COVID-19

On March 3, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held a hearing on “An Emerging Disease Threat: How the U.S. is Responding to COVID-19, the Novel Coronavirus.” Witnesses included: Anne Schuchat, M.D., Principal Deputy Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Anthony Fauci, M.D., Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health; Robert Kadlec, M.D., Assistant Secretary For Preparedness and Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and Stephen Hahn, M.D., Commissioner, U.S. Food and Drug Administration. View the full recording and read witness testimony


Executive Branch Updates


NSF’s Letter to Community on COVID-19

The National Science Foundation (NSF) invites researchers to submit proposals through their existing Rapid Response Research (RAPID) funding mechanism. RAPID proposals provide NSF with the opportunity to review urgent proposals and facilitate timely responses to research on natural or anthropogenic disasters and similar unanticipated events. At present, NSF is accepting non-medical, non-clinical-care research proposals on COVID-19. Read NSF's Letter to Community and read about RAPID.

NSF’s Implementation of OMB Memorandum: COVID-19 Guidance

On March 23, the National Science Foundation (NSF) issued guidance on the implementation of the Office of Management & Budget (OMB) Memorandum M-20-17, “Administrative Relief for Recipients and Applicants of Federal Financial Assistance Directly Impacted by the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) due to Loss of Operations.” NSF recognizes the impact COVID-19 will have on NSF-funded research and facilities and provides guidance on how to implement flexibilities authorized by M-20-17. Read about NSF’s implementation of OMB Memorandum M-20-17.

RFI: Public Access to Peer-Reviewed Scholarly Publications, Data, & Code

The Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the National Science and Technology Council’s Subcommittee on Open Science extended the comment period for their request for information (RFI) on public access. This RFI provides individuals and organizations with the opportunity to make recommendations for expanding broad public access to peer-reviewed scholarly publications, data, and code that derive from federally funded scientific research. The comment period for this RFI has been extended to April 6, 2020. Read further information and submit a comment.

NSF Request for Recommendations for Membership: Directorate and Office Advisory Committees

The National Science Foundation (NSF) requests recommendations for membership on their scientific and technical federal advisory committees. If you are interested in submitting a recommendation, contact the designated committee contact person. Read the full notice for more information about how to submit a recommendation.


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) National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE) 2019. The 2019 NSECE is a coordinated set of four nationally representative surveys aimed at describing the early care and education (ECE) landscape in the U.S. See below for more information on each survey:

(2) A More Generous Earned Income Tax Credit for Singles: Interim Findings from the Paycheck Plus Demonstration in Atlanta. This report presents interim findings from the Paycheck Plus program in Atlanta, a test of a policy that offers a more generous credit to low-income workers without dependent children. 

(3) Preventing and Addressing Intimate Violence when Engaging Dads (PAIVED): Challenges, Successes, and Promising Practices from Responsible Fatherhood Programs. This report summarizes findings from a research study examining the specific approaches that Responsible Fatherhood programs take to provide intimate partner violence (IPV)-related services.

(4) Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS) Children’s Social and Emotional Skills: Select Findings from the MSHS Study 2017. This report describes the social and emotional skills of children served by MSHS programs using data from the MSHS Study 2017.

(5) Can Subsidized Employment Programs Help Disadvantaged Job Seekers? A Synthesis of Findings from Evaluations of 13 Programs. This report summarizes the findings from random assignment studies of 13 subsidized employment programs, which were evaluated as part of the Subsidized and Transitional Employment Demonstration (STED) and the Enhanced Transitional Jobs Demonstration (ETJD) projects.

(6) Characteristics of Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Children and Families: Select Findings from the Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS) Study 2017. This report presents select characteristics of children and families served by MSHS programs using data from the MSHS Study 2017. 

New Reports 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) Title IV-E Prevention Toolkit. This toolkit aims to help states develop a plan for Title IV-E prevention services, and to assist states in planning a comprehensive array of services to help prevent the need for foster care placement by braiding Title IV-E prevention services reimbursement with Medicaid and other funding mechanisms. Below are elements of the toolkit:

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) Expulsion from School as a Disciplinary Action. This report examines the percentage of U.S. public elementary and secondary schools that were allowed to expel students from school as a disciplinary action and the percentage of schools that expelled students.

(2) U.S. Highlighted Results From the 2018 Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) of Teachers and Principals in Lower Secondary Schools (Grades 7-9). This report provides key comparative information about teachers and principals in the U.S. and 48 other education systems that participated in the 2018 TALIS.

(3) What Tools Have States Developed or Adapted to Assess Schools’ Implementation of a Multi-Tiered System of Supports/Response to Intervention Framework? This report describes a study that examined 31 tools that 21 states developed or adapted to measure multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS)/response to intervention (RTI) implementation.

(4) U.S. Public School Students Enrolled in Schools with Violent Incidents and Hate Crimes. This report estimates the number and percentage of public school students who were enrolled in a school where any violent incident or hate crime occurred at a school in 2007–08 and 2017–18, as reported by school principals. 

(5) Balanced Leadership® Intervention Report. This report summarizes the research on Balanced Leadership, a professional development program for current and aspiring school leaders in K-12 schools. 

(6) Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary School Districts: FY 17. This report presents data on public elementary and secondary education revenues and expenditures at the local education agency (LEA) or school district level for fiscal year (FY) 2017. 

(7) Guide and Checklists for a School Leader’s Walkthrough during Literacy Instruction in Grades 4–12. This report was developed to assist school leaders in observing specific research-based practices during literacy instruction in grade 4–12 classrooms and students’ independent use or application of those practices. 

(8) Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Education: FY 17. This report introduces new data for national and state-level public elementary and secondary revenues and expenditures for fiscal year (FY) 2017.

(9) Estimating Student Achievement at the Topic Level in TIMSS Using IRT-Based Domain Scoring. This report introduces a method to analyze large-scale student achievement data at the topic level, using data from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study’s (TIMSS) fourth-grade mathematics assessment. 


U.S. Federal Funding Opportunities

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

(1) ACF: Behavioral Intervention Scholars. The Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) is soliciting applications for Behavioral Interventions Scholars grants to support dissertation research by advanced graduate students who are using approaches grounded in behavioral science or behavioral economics to examine specific research questions of relevance to social services programs and policies. Applications are due by June 1, 2020. 

(2) ED: Technical Assistance and Dissemination to Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities – Model Demonstration Projects to Develop Coaching Systems. The Department of Education is inviting applications for FY 2020 Model Demonstration Projects to Develop Coaching Systems. These projects will provide support to professionals to collaborate with early learning and early intervention programs, schools, districts, and State agencies to establish the infrastructure, personnel skills, and processes necessary for an effective and sustainable coaching system. Applications are due by May 4, 2020. 

(3) CDC: Research Grants to Prevent Firearm-Related Violence and Injuries (R01). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC, Injury Center) is soliciting investigator-initiated research to understand and prevent firearm-related injuries, deaths, and crime. The intent of this FOA is to support research to help inform the development of innovative and promising opportunities to enhance safety and prevent firearm-related injuries, deaths, and crime, and rigorously evaluate the effectiveness of innovative and promising strategies to keep individuals, families, schools, and communities safe from firearm-related injuries, deaths, and crime. Applications are due by May 5, 2020. 

(4) NIH: Firearm Injury and Mortality Prevention Research (R61 Clinical Trial Optional). The National Institutes of Health (NIH) invites applications on research to improve understanding of the determinants of firearm injury, the identification of those at risk of firearm injury (including both victims and perpetrators), the development and evaluation of innovative interventions to prevent firearm injury and mortality, and the examination of approaches to improve the implementation of existing, evidence-based interventions to prevent firearm injury and mortality. Applications are due by May 15, 2020. 

(5) NIH: Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Institutional Research Training Grant. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will award Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Institutional Research Training Grants (T32) to eligible, domestic institutions to enhance predoctoral and postdoctoral research training, including short-term research training, and help ensure that a diverse and highly trained workforce is available to meet the needs of the Nation’s biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research agenda. Applications are due by May 25, 2020. 

Read about these and other funding opportunities.


International Updates

Call for Submissions: UN Special Rapporteur Report on Immigration Detention of Children

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants' report to the 75th session of the General Assembly will spotlight ending immigration detention of children and providing adequate care for children. The UN Special Rapporteur seeks input from Member States, National Human Rights Institutions, UN Agencies, civil society, academia and other stakeholders on the following points:

  • "Legislation or policies that prohibit or restrict the use of immigration detention of children and their families;
  • Existing non-custodial alternatives to immigration detention of children (e.g. community-based reception solutions) and their effect on the protection of the rights of migrant children and their families;
  • Good practices or measures taken to protect the human rights of migrant children and their families while their migration status is being resolved;
  • Challenges and/or obstacles in the development and/or implementation of non-custodial alternatives to immigration detention of children and their families; and other relevant information."

Read this questionnaire for more information. The deadline for submissions is April 20, 2020. All submissions should be under 2,500 words and sent to migrant@ohchr.org with the subject line, “submission to GA report.” Read the full call for submission.


SRCD Child and Family Policy News

Spotlight on SRCD U.S. State Policy Fellow

Sarah Prendergast, Ph.D., is a SRCD State Policy Post-doctoral Fellow placed in the Office of Early Childhood at the Colorado Department of Human Services. Read about her work on a randomized-controlled trial of the Colorado Community Response (CCR) program and her contributions to the Colorado Partnership for Thriving Families (CPTF).