Policy Update: May 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

Spotlight on the SRCD Policy Fellow - Parisa Parsafar

Parisa Parsafar, Ph.D., is a SRCD Federal Executive Branch Policy Fellow who is placed in the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), National Institutes of Health (NIH). Read about how her fellowship work, which spans maintaining a research portfolio to co-leading a STrategies to EnRich Inclusion and AchieVe Equity (STRIVE) initiative committee that explores how NICHD-funded research can address the underlying caucuses of health disparities, has enhanced the role of research on improving the health of children and families. Visit the SRCD website to read Spotlights describing the contributions SRCD U.S. Policy Fellows have made at their placements.

ICYMI: SRCD Virtual Biennial Meeting Materials Available

Missed the 2021 Zigler Policy Pre-Conference or the BIPOC Reflections on the SRCD Fellowship session at SRCD’s Virtual Biennial Meeting? Visit SRCD’s Biennial platform. For all attendees, Biennial materials (including all live sessions, pre-recorded presentations, and posters) are available for viewing on demand via the meeting platform through July 15 at 11:59 pm EasternPlease note that only Q&A sessions from the invited program and special events are posted and all chatrooms are closed.  
If you already registered for the Biennial, please log in to the SRCD21 platform using your credentials. If you did not register for the Biennial and would like to view the content available on demand, register here.


Legislative Branch Updates

President Biden Signs COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act Into Law 

On May 20, President Biden signed S.937, “COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act,” into law. Earlier this week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed S.937 with a 364-62 vote following the Senate’s passage last month with a 94-1 vote. S.937 will address the COVID-19-related rise in violence directed at Asian Americans in part through streamlining the review process of reported hate crimes in the United States. More specifically, S.937 directs the Attorney General to provide state, local, and Tribal law enforcement agencies with guidance regarding data collection, information campaigns, and reporting processes (e.g., establishing an online reporting system for hate crimes or incidents) and identify an employee within the U.S. Department of Justice who will be responsible for facilitating expedited reviews of hate crimes. The bill also directs the Attorney General and Secretary of Health and Human Services, in cooperation with the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force and community-based organizations, to help raise awareness of hate crimes during the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, read President Biden's remarks at the signing of S. 937.

Senate Committee Approves OSTP Nominee

On May 20, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation approved President Biden’s nominee for Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), Eric Lander, Ph.D.. The Senate Committee previously held a hearing to discuss the nomination last month. For more information about the hearing, read the witness statement and watch the recording. The nomination will now be considered by the full Senate.

Additional Hearings of Interest

  • Student Homelessness and Foster Care. On May 19, the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education of the Education and Labor Committee held a hearing on “Picking up the Pieces: Strengthening Connections with Students Experiencing Homelessness and Children in Foster Care.” View the witness list, recording, and read witness testimonies.
  • National Science Foundation: Advancing Research for the Future of U.S. Innovation. On May 6, the House Subcommittee on Research and Technology of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee held a hearing on “National Science Foundation: Advancing Research for the Future of U.S. Innovation Part II,” the second in a series of hearings on the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. research enterprise. View the witness list, recording, read witness testimonies, and member statements.

Executive Branch Updates

White House Launches Scientific Integrity Task Force

On May 10, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) announced the launch of the Scientific Integrity Task Force. The 46-member Task Force, which includes 44 federal government employees from a variety of federal agencies and two OSTP Deputy Directors, convened for the first time on May 14 to respond to President Biden’s Memorandum on Restoring Trust in Government Through Scientific Integrity and Evidence-Based Policymaking. According to the White House, “... OSTP is inaugurating a whole-of-government process that will lift up the voices of Federal scientists of many perspectives and backgrounds, in order to ensure that scientific integrity is paramount in Federal governance for years to come. The Task Force will review existing Federal scientific-integrity policies to identify effective solutions that will help improve the lives of the American people, inform innovative and equitable policy, and revitalize the confidence of the American public in its government.” For more information about the Scientific Integrity Task Force, read the White House’s press release. For more information about the meeting, read the White House’s readout of the first Scientific Integrity Task Force meeting

ED Request for Comment on Priorities and Definitions Related to COVID-19 and Promoting Equity

The Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, U.S. Department of Education (ED) released a proposed rule titled, “Proposed Priorities and Definitions-Education Innovation and Research-COVID-19 and Equity.” The proposed rule solicits comments on two proposed priorities and definitions under ED’s Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program “... for the purpose of developing, implementing, and evaluating projects designed to enhance instructional practice and improve achievement and attainment for high-need students in two key policy areas: [1] Innovative approaches to addressing the impact of the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on students and educators (namely, the interruption of traditional patterns of education due to school closures and the disproportionate social, emotional, physical and mental health, and academic impacts on particular student groups); and [2] promoting equity in students' access to educational resources and opportunities.” The Department of Education welcomes feedback on the proposed priorities and definitions noted above. For more information, read the notice and consider submitting a comment before June 2, 2021

NIMH Notice of Special Interest: COVID-19 Related School Disruptions' Impact on Children

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) released a Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) expressing interest in research on how the mental health of school-aged children (ages 3-12) has been impacted by COVID-19. NIMH is particularly interested in “...the potential impact of primary instruction settings disruptions (e.g., pre-school, elementary school) on the mental health, cognitive, social, and emotional development of children.” This NOSI aims to address the research gap by seeking data that can be used to inform public health mitigation strategies that affect children during current and future public health emergencies. For more information about this opportunity, read the full notice of special interest. Interested parties must submit their applications for this initiative using this funding opportunity announcement (FOA) or any reissues of this FOA through September 8, 2022.

NSF Dear Colleague Letter: SBE Trans-Atlantic Call for Proposals, Recovery, Renewal, and Resilience

On April 20, the National Science Foundation (NSF) released a Dear Colleague Letter on the NSF Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences’ (NSF/SBE) participation in the Trans-Atlantic Platform Call for Proposals, Recovery, Renewal, and Resilience in a Post-Pandemic World (T-AP RRR). The T-AP RRR is a grant competition that will provide researchers with the opportunity to participate in international collaborative research projects on the effects of COVID-19 on society and how to better support recovery and renewal efforts post-pandemic. According to NSF, “T-AP RRR will support collaborative research teams from four continents: Africa (Republic of South Africa); Europe (Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom); North America (Canada, the United States); and South America (Brazil and Colombia). Teams must include researchers based in at least three participating T-AP RRR countries and must include partners from both sides of the Atlantic, i.e., from Europe/Africa and the Americas.” For more information about this opportunity, read NSF’s Dear Colleague Letter. Interested parties must submit their proposals by July 12, 2021.

NIH ECHO Program: Request for Information

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) released a time-sensitive Request for Information (RFI) on “Enhancing the Science for the Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program.” The ECHO Program was initiated five years ago with a “…mission to enhance the health of children for generations to come. The impact of ECHO’s observational research rests on availability of combined data from multiple diverse pre-existing and ongoing maternal-child cohort studies, driven by the ECHO-wide Cohort data collection protocol. To date the ECHO-wide Cohort data platform contains data on over 50,000 children and their families.” This RFI seeks input from the scientific community and the public on opportunities to enhance the science of the program. For more information about this information request, read the full request for information. Interested parties must submit their responses by May 25, 2021 to NIHKidsandEnvironment@od.nih.gov

NIH HEAL Initiative Idea Exchange: Call for Input

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Helping to End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) Initiative issued an Idea Exchange titled, “Moving HEAL Research into Action.” The NIH HEAL initiative aims to “…provide lasting, scientific solutions to the opioid crisis. The initiative is funding hundreds of projects nationwide to improve pain management and the prevention and treatment of opioid misuse and addiction.” Through this Idea Exchange, the initiative seeks public input on solutions to the opioid crisis, ideas on how research can address the crisis, and guidance regarding how to disseminate HEAL results to communities. For more information about this call, visit the HEAL Idea Exchange's communications platform. The comment period for this opportunity closes on June 1, 2021. Please note interested parties must register first (free registration) to submit their ideas.

Department of Education COVID-19 Handbook: Roadmap to Reopening Safely

The U.S. Department of Education released, “COVID-19 Handbook, Volume 2: Roadmap to Reopening Safely and Meeting All Students' Needs” last month, the second handbook in a volume on how to safely reopen schools. Volume 2 focuses on “research-based strategies to address the social, emotional, mental-health, and academic impacts of the pandemic on students, educators, and staff, such as how to address any potential anxiety or depression some may face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and nearly a year of remote learning.” The volume includes guidance regarding how states, districts, schools, and communities can implement plans to reopen using American Rescue Plan funds. To learn more, read the handbook and the U.S. Department of Education’s press release.

NSF Advisory Committee for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Meeting

On May 6 and 7, the National Science Foundation (NSF) Advisory Committee for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE) convened. The Advisory Committee meets twice a year to provide the SBE directorate with guidance and recommendations regarding research, education, and human resources. During the two-day meeting earlier this month, members discussed a wide variety of topics of interest, from an update on Broader Impacts to new SBE funding opportunities, to a discussion of SBE contributions to research, development and equity. To learn out more about the Advisory Committee meeting, visit the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) Advisory Committee's website.


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) Pathways for Advancing Career and Education (PACE) Six-Year Follow-Up Analysis PlanThis report describes a plan for using six-year follow-up outcomes to answer the primary research questions of a study of nine programs that use a “career pathways” framework for increasing education, employment, and self-sufficiency among low-income individuals and families. 

(2) Educational Supports and Experiences in the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors (URM) Program: Findings from a Descriptive StudyThis report describes educational experiences and outcomes of youth served through the URM Program, including experiences of URM youth in school settings, services provided to the youth, and challenges and successes in providing these services.

(3) Opening the Black Box of Coaching in Early Care and Education Professional Development and Quality Improvement: Session Recording from the Administration for Children and Families' (ACF) National Research Conference on Early Childhood 2020This webinar features a presentation on the We Grow Together Professional Development System (WGT) field test alongside two other projects that have recently sought to understand variation in coaching and studied, implemented, or supported different coaching models across early care and education settings. 

(4) Still Bridging the Opportunity Divide for Low-Income Youth: Year Up’s Longer-Term ImpactsThis report evaluates whether Year Up, a program which aims to help young adults access well-paying careers with good potential for upward mobility and address shortages of needed workers in growing occupations, was successful in increasing earnings and related outcomes, and whether its benefits exceeded its costs.

(5) Data Snapshots from the Interim Report on the 2015 Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood (HMRF) Grantee Programs and ClientsThis resource includes a series of snapshots describing the 2015 cohort of 85 HMRF grantees that were awarded five-year grants in September 2015. 

(6) Promoting a Positive Organizational Culture in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Offices: Final ReportThis report explores how organizational culture, office design, and office procedures contribute to shaping clients’ experiences with TANF, the services provided to them, and potentially their outcomes.

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) Factors Influencing Variation Between States in Efficiency of COVID-19 Vaccine AdministrationThis report summarizes the different vaccine distribution strategies and approaches taken by states and evaluates the extent to which these may have impacted the efficiency with which doses delivered to states are administered to patients. 

(2) Disparities in COVID-19 Vaccination Rates Across Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups in the United States. Ensuring equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine is essential to mitigate the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on racial and ethnic minority populations. This report summarizes currently available data on race and ethnicity of vaccinated persons at the state level. 

(3) Measuring the Implementation and Outcomes of Emergency Economic Mobility and Recovery Waivers and Flexibilities: Key Lessons from Demonstration Waivers. Building off the demonstration waiver research base, this report illustrates a step-by-step guide for program managers to assess implementation and outcomes of an emergency flexibility or waiver focused on economic mobility or economic recovery. 

(4) Measuring the Effectiveness of Virtual Human ServicesThis brief describes research on telehealth and remote home visiting which can inform strategies, outcomes, and measures for assessing participant and staff experiences with virtual human services.

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) Early Childhood Program Participation: 2019This report presents findings about young children’s care and education before kindergarten, including participation rates in weekly nonparental care arrangements, how well these arrangements cover work hours, costs of care, months spent in care, location of care, factors used to select a care arrangement, and factors making it difficult to find care.

(2) The Impact of Career and Technical Education on Postsecondary Outcomes in Nebraska and South DakotaThis report and brief examine how completing a sequence of career and technical education (CTE) courses in high school affects students' rates of on-time high school graduation and their rates of postsecondary education enrollment and completion within two and five years. 

(3) Outcomes for Early Career Teachers Prepared through a Pilot Residency Program in LouisianaThis report analyzes data for three cohorts that participated in Louisiana's Believe and Prepare pilot program, which aimed to prepare teacher candidates or in-service teachers through a residency with a mentor and a competency-based curriculum. To improve teacher preparation and teacher residencies, state and teacher education leaders in Louisiana sought to better understand the early career outcomes for participants in the pilot program.  

(4) Bottom Line Intervention Report. This What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) intervention report summarizes the research on Bottom Line, which provides intensive advising for low-income high school students, most of whom are the first in their family to go to college. The advising is designed to help students apply for college and financial aid and select a high-quality, affordable institution.


U.S. Federal Funding Opportunities

The May 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) An Administration for Children and Families (ACF) funding opportunity to establish an African American Child and Family Research Center, to lead and support research on the needs of African American populations served by ACF and promising approaches to promote social and economic well-being among low-income African American populations. Applications are due by July 12, 2021.

(2) An Administration for Community Living (ACL) funding opportunity to create a national, person-centered, culturally competent healthcare transition resource center for youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD) as they transition into adult models of care. Applications are due by July 11, 2021.

(3) A National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding opportunity to establish a coordinating center to support and develop research, dissemination, and various data sharing activities for social, behavioral, and economic research on COVID-19. Applications are due by June 9, 2021.

(4) A National Institute of Justice (NIJ) funding opportunity for evidence-based, nonpartisan analyses of existing evidence to examine how observed racial and ethnic disparities in the justice system, including the juvenile justice system, might be reduced through public policy. Applications are due by June 11, 2021.

Read about these and other funding opportunities.