Policy Update: May 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

Kylie Bezdek is a SRCD State Policy Pre-doctoral Fellow who is placed in the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE). Read about her contributions to North Carolina’s practice-based coaching training and resources for the state’s technical assistance specialists.

Alayna Schreier, Ph.D., is a SRCD Federal Executive Branch Policy Fellow who is placed in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Read about her work at ASPE in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as conducting analyses of existing health and safety guidance as the U.S. moves towards re-opening. 

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.


Legislative Branch Updates

COVID-19 Update

The HEROES Act Passes the U.S. House of Representatives

On May 15, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 6800, The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act with a nearly party-line vote of 208-199. The HEROES Act includes approximately $3 trillion in funding to support health and economic recovery efforts related to COVID-19. The bill includes provisions that would provide direct aid to state and local governments, funding for hazard pay for essential workers, and a national testing program, among others. 

The bill includes several provisions that would support children and families. For example, the bill provides an additional $10.1 billion to the Administration for Children and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This funding would remain available until September 30, 2021, and includes but is not limited to: 

  • $7 billion for Child Care and Development Block Grants;  
  • $1.5 billion for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program; 
  • $20 million for Community Based-Child Abuse Prevention Grants; 
  • $50 million for Family Violence Prevention and Services; and 
  • $20 million for Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act State Grants.  

H.R. 6800 is expected to be considered by the Senate in the near future.

Additional Hearings of Interest

House Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Protecting Workers from COVID-19
On May 28, the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections of the House Committee on Education and Labor held a hearing on “Examining the Federal Government’s Actions to Protect Workers from COVID-19.” Witnesses included: Loren Sweatt, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Occupational Safety and Health Administration; and John Howard, M.D., M.P.H, J.D., LL.M., M.B.A., Director, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. View the full recording and read witness testimony.

Senate Committee Holds Hearing on Safely Getting Back to Work and School  
On May 12, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions held a hearing on “COVID-19: Safely Getting Back to Work and Back to School.” Witnesses included: Anthony Fauci, M.D., Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health; Robert Redfield, M.D., Director, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Admiral Brett Giroir, M.D., Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and Stephen Hahn, M.D., Commissioner of Food and Drugs, U.S. Food and Drug Administration. View the full recording and read witness testimony
House Subcommittee Holds Hearing on COVID-19 Response 
On May 6, the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies of the House Committee on Appropriations held a hearing on the “COVID-19 Response.” Witnesses included: Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., President and CEO, Resolve to Save Lives, Vital Strategies; and Caitlin Rivers, Ph.D., M.P.H., Senior Scholar, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Health and Engineering, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. View the full recording and read witness testimony


Executive Branch Updates


NIMH Discusses Updated 2020 Strategic Plan
On May 19, the National Advisory Mental Health Council met virtually. View the full recording to learn more about the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Director’s Report and the NIMH Strategic Plan for Research. Joshua Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., Director of NIMH, discussed the NIMH 2020 Strategic Plan, among other topics. The Strategic Plan includes four goals: "(1) define the brain mechanisms underlying complex behavior; (2) examine mental illness trajectories across the lifespan; (3) strive for prevention and cures; and (4) strengthen the public health impact of NIMH-supported research." Read the 2020 Strategic Plan for more information about these goals.

NIH Forms Working Group on Behavioral and Social Science Research
On May 15, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Council of Councils met. The NIH Council of Councils meets three times a year “to review the policies and programs of the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI) and to conduct concept clearance and second-level review of selected DPCPSI and OD [Office of the Director] grant applications.” View the full recording and read the agenda for the meeting. The Council approved a proposal that formed a working group on behavioral and social science research. See “Establishing a Basic Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Working Group: Identifying Emerging and Promising Basic Research with a Plausible Pathway to Health” in the agenda for more information about this working group. 

NASEM and NSF Create Network for Social Scientists in Response to COVID-19
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) formed the Societal Experts Action Network (SEAN) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. SEAN facilitates connections between social and behavioral science researchers and COVID-19 response decision-makers, providing timely responses to social, behavioral, and economic questions posed by federal, state, and local officials. The network “will include individual researchers from a broad range of disciplines as well as leading national social and behavioral science institutions. Responses to decision-maker requests may range from individual phone calls and presentations to written committee documents such as Rapid Expert Consultations.”  

For more information about SEAN, read the National Academies news release and learn more about SEAN’s open-access archive, which includes probability-based survey data and reports that study public attitudes, behavior, and experiences related to COVID-19. 


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) Home Visiting Career Trajectories: Snapshot of Home Visitor's Qualifications, Job Experiences, and Career Pathways. This report presents findings from a national descriptive study of the home visiting workforce in local agencies receiving Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program funding.

(2) Evaluating an Enhanced Home Visiting Program to Prevent Rapid Repeat Pregnancy Among Adolescent Parents. This report provides a final summary of key implementation and impact findings from the evaluation of Steps to Success, a home visiting program in San Antonio, Texas, designed to reduce rapid repeat pregnancy among young mothers.

(3) Short-Term Outcomes for Users of the National Domestic Violence Hotline and loveisrespect (LIR). This report describes outcomes for contactors immediately after their interaction with The Hotline or LIR and then again approximately two weeks later.

(4) Behavioral Interventions Scholars (BIS): 2019 Grantee Project Abstracts. This report provides detailed project abstracts for each of the 2019 BIS grantees’ projects.

(5) Early Care and Education Supports for Young Children Experiencing Homelessness. This two-brief series details important information about access to early care and education for families with young children experiencing homelessness. Read the briefs: Facilitating Access to Early Care and Education for Children Experiencing Homelessness; and Leveraging Data to Identify Children Experiencing Homelessness.

(6) Protocol for the Pathways to Work Evidence Clearinghouse: Methods and Standards. This report provides a protocol for review to promote consistency in review of procedures and findings for the Pathways to Work Evidence Clearinghouse: The What Works Clearinghouse of Proven and Promising Approaches to Move Welfare Recipients into Work.

(7) Tribal Health Profession Opportunity Grants 2.0 SnapshotsThese reports on each grantee highlight key features of each Tribal HPOG 2.0 program and describe outcomes from the first four years of program implementation.

(8) Building Capacity in Foster Care to Support the Self-Regulation Development of Youth and Young Adults: Meeting Summary. This report summarizes the key takeaways from a recent OPRE meeting, “Building Capacity in Foster Care to Support the Self-Regulation Development of Youth and Young Adults.”

(9) Pima Community College’s Pathways to Healthcare Program: Three-Year Impact Report. This report describes findings for the Pathways to Healthcare program three years after random assignment. The program aimed to help low-income, low-skilled adults access and complete healthcare occupational training that could lead to increased employment and higher earnings.

(10) Evaluating a Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program for Middle School Boys. This report summarizes findings from a random assignment impact study of Wise Guys, a long-standing, widely implemented curriculum designed to help adolescent males make responsible decisions about their sexual behavior.

(11) Inside, Outside, Round and Round: Sustaining Engagement in Responsible Fatherhood Programs. This tip sheet provides a checklist for engaging fathers in Responsible Fatherhood programs that emerged from the Building Bridges and Bonds (B3) study.

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) Employment and Wages in the Child Care Industry: Insight from the Great Recession. This report examines historical trends in employment and wages, particularly around the 2008 to 2009 recession, which may give an idea of how the child care sector may respond to the current COVID-19 crisis.

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) Policies Outlining the Role of Sworn Law Enforcement Officers in Public Schools. This report examines the formal policies schools have in place to outline officers’ roles and responsibilities and whether these policies are aligned with the activities that sworn law enforcement officers participate in while at school.

(2) Teachers’ Use of Technology for School and Homework Assignments: 2018–19. This report provides statistics about the use of technology for homework assignments in grades 3–12.

(3) Intervention Report: Full Option Science System. This report summarizes the research on Full Option Science System (FOSS), a curriculum including content in the physical, earth, and life sciences that is designed to improve student science achievement in kindergarten through Grade 8.

(4) The Condition of Education 2020. This report summarizes the latest data from NCES and other sources on education in the United States.

(5) Assessing the Alignment between West Virginia’s High School Career and Technical Education (CTE) Programs and the Labor Market. This report describes findings from a study examining the alignment between West Virginia’s high school CTE programs and the labor market.

(6) Highlights of the 2018 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) Financial Literacy Assessment. This report presents the 2018 results of the PISA financial literacy assessment.

(7) Self-Study Guide for Evidence-Based Practices in Adult Literacy Education. This report is a self-study guide to help adult literacy education providers collect, organize, and analyze evidence that they can use to improve program performance.

(8) School Nurses in U.S. Public Schools. This report describes the presence of school nurses in public schools for the 2007-08, 2011-12, and 2015-16 school years, and by selected school characteristics for the 2015-16 school year.


U.S. Federal Funding Opportunities

The May 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) CDC: Preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences Data to Action. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announces a notice of funding opportunity designed to address state-specific needs related to the prevention of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Applications are due by July 13, 2020.

(2) ED: CARES Act: Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. The U.S. Department of Education is providing emergency relief funding provided by the CARES Act for institutions of higher education. Applications must be submitted by August 1, 2020.

(3) ED: Education Research and Special Education Research Grant Programs. The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) is announcing eight research competitions in the following areas: Education and special education research; education and special education research training; education research and development centers; National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) process data; and systematic replication in education and special education. Applications are due by August 20, 2020.

(4) NIDA: Substance Use/Substance Use Disorder Dissertation Research Award. The goal of this funding opportunity is to support doctoral candidates from a variety of academic disciplines for up to two years for the completion of the doctoral dissertation research project. Research projects should align with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) funding priorities or within the NIDA Strategic Plan. Applications are due by June 16, 2020.

(5) NIH: Director’s New Innovator Award Program. The NIH Director’s New Innovator Award Program supports early stage investigators of exceptional creativity who propose highly innovative research projects with the potential to produce a major impact on broad, important areas relevant to the mission of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Applications are due by August 21, 2020.

Read about these and other funding opportunities.