Policy Update: May 2022

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. 

SRCD Child and Family Policy News

Call for Applications: Editor of SRCD's Social Policy Report

We are seeking applications for the 2022 – 2026 editorship of the Social Policy Report (SPR). As one of SRCD’s hallmark policy publications, the SPR serves as a critical source of scientific knowledge about human development and its application to policy. The SPR is distributed to the membership of SRCD (about 5,000 researchers) and to approximately 300 policy and science organizations, federal agency officials, foundations, advocacy organizations, and policy journalists.

Given SRCD’s strong commitment to advance the developmental sciences and promote the use of research to improve human lives (see SRCD’s mission and vision for more information), the search committee is especially interested in candidates’ unique editorial visions, with particular focus on: (1) how they would increase the policy relevance of manuscripts through the editorial process, (2) how they would encourage robust SPR submissions from a variety of policy-relevant research areas, and (3) how they would incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) approaches into the editorial process.

The new Editor will assume the title of Incoming Editor on October 1, 2022 and will assume the Editor role on November 1, 2022. The application deadline for the editorship is June 17, 2022. To learn more about this opportunity and how to apply, visit SRCD’s website.


Legislative Branch Updates

Congressional Lawmakers Advance Innovation and Competitiveness Package

On May 12, 107 members of the House and Senate comprising the conference committee for U.S. innovation legislation held their first meeting to begin work on reconciling their bills. The House of Representatives passed the America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing Pre-Eminence in Technology and Economic Strength (COMPETES) Act of 2022 (H.R. 4521) in February. The nearly 3,000-page package is comprised of several bills and other provisions related to advancing the U.S. STEM enterprise and shoring up U.S. scientific competitiveness, especially with respect to China. The COMPETES bill is the House’s response to the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) that passed the Senate last year. While the bills are similar in their overarching goals, key differences remain, including their respective approaches for reauthorizing the National Science Foundation and establishing a new tech transfer-focused directorate at the agency.

Earlier this year, House and Senate leadership announced who they have selected to serve on the conference committee charged with reconciling differences between the two bills (House Democrats, House Republicans, Senate Democrats, Senate Republicans). The conference officially kicked off on May 12 when the Senate Commerce Committee hosted the first meeting, chaired by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA). The hearing provided the opportunity for each member to give two-minute opening statements about their priorities within the bills. All told, 94 members of the conference committee provided opening statements during this first, marathon meeting, illustrating just how divided members are on many of the bills’ provisions. Work will continue over the next few months, with some expressing hope that a final agreement can be reached by July 4. 

Summary provided by the Consortium of Social Science Associations' (COSSA) Washington Update. For more information, read COSSA’s Washington Update.   

President Biden Signs H.R. 7791: Access to Baby Formula Act Into Law

On May 21, President Biden signed H.R. 7791, Access to Baby Formula Act, into law. H.R. 7791, which was signed into law with largely bipartisan support, aims to ameliorate the effects of the infant formula shortage for U.S. families by allowing the U.S. Department of Agriculture to waive state administrative requirements for  the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program. According to CQ, “...action comes as President Joe Biden invoked the 1950 Defense Production Act to require suppliers to prioritize and provide the needed resources to formula manufacturers in order to increase production. Biden also directed the Health and Human Services and Agriculture departments to use military commercial aircraft to pick up overseas infant formula in order to get it to store shelves faster.” The Biden Administration, under the Defense Production Act, approved "priority determinations" for Abbott Nutrition and Reckitt, flying in formula to the U.S. from Europe as early as Sunday, May 22nd. Of note, the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed H.R. 7790, Infant Formula Supplemental Appropriations Act, which would authorize $28 million in emergency funds for the Food and Drug Administration to address the formula shortage. The bill will be considered by the Senate.

Additional Hearings of Interest

Infant Formula Crisis: Addressing the Shortage. On May 26, the U.S Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions held a hearing on the “Infant Formula Crisis: Addressing the Shortage and Getting Formula On Shelves.” View the witness list, recording, and read witness testimonies.

Fairness and Transparency in the Market for Prescription Drugs. On May 5, the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation held a hearing on “Ensuring Fairness and Transparency in the Market for Prescription Drugs.” View the witness list, recording, and read witness testimonies.

The Governance of Tax-Exempt Entities. On May 4, the Subcommittee on Taxation and IRS Oversight of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance held a hearing on “Laws and Enforcement Governing the Political Activities of Tax-Exempt Entities.” View the witness list, recording, and read witness testimonies.

Opportunities to Support the Broadband Workforce. On May 3, the Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held a hearing on “Connecting Workers and Communities: Preparing and Supporting the Broadband Workforce.” View the witness list, recording, and read witness testimonies.

The Priorities of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. On April 27, the Civil Rights and Human Services Subcommittee of the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor held a hearing on “Examining the Policies and Priorities of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs”. View the witness list, recording, and read witness testimonies.


Executive Branch Updates


Congress Enhances NIH’s Ability to Address Harassment

On May 10, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released a statement announcing Congress improved their ability to address harassment in NIH-funded activities. In the statement, Lawrence A Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D., Acting Director, NIH, reflected on a 2018 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report titled, “Sexual Harassment of Women,” which found that “…a culture of harassment with persistent microaggressions is driving women away from science. It was crystal clear that NIH and other federal agencies needed to do more to end the culture of harassment and ensure women and other groups their rightful place in science.” Since then, NIH has enhanced their ability to end sexual harassment in biomedical research, further ingraining their commitment to this agency-wide priority. NIH is currently implementing a provision included in the 2022 Consolidated Appropriations Act that “…mandates the NIH Director to require NIH-funded institutions to report to the NIH 'when individuals identified as principal investigator or as key personnel in an NIH notice of award are removed from their position or are otherwise disciplined due to concerns about harassment, bullying, retaliation, or hostile working conditions.' This provision not only enables mandatory reporting to NIH of removals and disciplinary actions, but it also ensures that NIH is made aware when the reason for the actions is concerns of harassment. Effective July 8, 2022, NIH is requiring notification by the Authorized Organization Representative at NIH-funded institutions within 30 days of the removal or disciplinary action that must be submitted to NIH via [a] webform.” To learn more about NIH’s efforts to end harassment, read NIH’s statement

Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health Transfers to NIH

On April 20, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the transfer of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a new research agency that was established with the enactment of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022 on March 15, 2022 “… to improve the U.S. government’s ability to speed biomedical and health research.” Read the federal notice for more information about the transfer. More recently, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra announced the establishment of ARPA-H as an independent entity within NIH and appointed Adam H. Russell, D.Phil., as Acting Deputy Director, stating, “Currently, Dr. Russell is the Chief Scientist at University of Maryland's Applied Research Laboratory for Intelligence and Security (ARLIS). He spent more than a decade as a Program Manager, first at the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) and then at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Dr. Russell will begin his new role in June. With broad technical and management experience across several disciplines, ranging from cognitive neuroscience and physiology to cultural psychology and social anthropology, Dr. Russell will guide the early stages of building the administrative structure of the agency and oversee the hiring of initial operational staff to ensure the agency is stood up as effectively and efficiently as possible. President Biden will appoint an ARPA-H Director who will be responsible for administration and operation of ARPA-H and will report to the HHS Secretary.” To learn more about Dr. Russell, read the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ press release.

DOJ Announces Nancy La Vigne as Director of the National Institute of Justice

On May 4, the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Amy L. Solomon announced that President Biden appointed Dr. Nancy La Vigne as Director of OJP’s National Institute of Justice. Dr. La Vigne began her term on May 9. The statement notes, “La Vigne is a nationally recognized criminal justice policy expert and nonprofit executive whose expertise ranges from policing and corrections reform to reentry, criminal justice technologies and evidence-based criminal justice practices. Prior to joining the Council on Criminal Justice, she served as vice president of justice policy at the Urban Institute, a nonprofit social policy research organization based in Washington, D.C. Over the course of a decade, she directed Urban’s Justice Policy Center, leading a staff of more than 50 researchers and managing an annual departmental budget of about $10 million. From 2014 to 2016, she also served as executive director of the congressionally-mandated bipartisan Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections Reform.” Read the Office of Justice Programs’ press release to learn more about Dr. La Vigne and the transition. 

NSF Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate Advisory Committee Holds Meeting

The Advisory Committee for the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate met on May 20th. The Advisory Committee meets twice yearly to “provide advice, recommendations and oversight to the directorate concerning support for research, education and human resources.” For more information about the recent council meeting, read the public agenda and view the recording.

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) Compendium of Measures and Indicators of Home-Based Child Care (HBCC) Quality. HBCC is the most common form of nonparental child care for infants and toddlers and for children living in poverty. This report and compendium contain profiles from a review of existing HBCC measures and indicators that might be important to understand quality.

(2) Grantee-Led Evaluations in the Tribal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (2nd Edition): A Compilation of Grantee Evaluation Plan Profiles for Development and Implementation Grantees Funded in 2016 and Implementation and Expansion. This report describes the programs funded through the Tribal Home Visiting Program and highlights the creative approaches grantees developed to rigorously evaluate these programs. The profiles are designed for evaluators, program implementers, and federal staff who are looking to assess program impact in complex community contexts.

(3) Recommendations for Child Welfare System Support from Youth Currently and Formerly in Foster Care. This report summarizes recommendations from youth currently and formerly in foster care who participated in the Survey of Youth Transitioning from Foster Care (SYTFC) about how the child welfare system could best support their transition from care.

(4) Identifying and Addressing Human Trafficking (IAHT) in Child Welfare Agencies: Final Report. This report describes the IAHT study, which aims to better understand how child welfare agencies select and implement human trafficking screening tools and train workers on their use and to explore how youth identified as having experienced trafficking or at increased risk of trafficking are connected to services that meet their needs.

(5) Using Learning Cycles to Strengthen Fatherhood Programs: An Introduction to the “Strengthening the Implementation of Responsible Fatherhood Programs (SIRF) Study.” SIRF is designed to strengthen programs and build evidence on promising practices to improve the enrollment, engagement, and retention of fathers in program activities. This report describes the study’s activities in its first two years (2019 to 2021).

(6) Field Guide for Implementation of Breakthrough Series Collaborative (BSC) in Early Care and Education. This guide was developed as part of the Culture of Continuous Learning (CCL) project, a five-year project about implementing an innovative quality improvement methodology called the BSC in ECE centers. It is a practical toolkit for individuals leading a BSC to support the use of evidence-based practices in ECE centers.

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) Practice Guide: Strengthening Partnerships Between Fatherhood and Human Services Programs to Improve Father Engagement. This report is a resource for a broad range of human services and fatherhood programs aiming to be more inclusive of and responsive to fathers. It builds on literature from the field and interviews with human services providers that engage fathers in services.

(2) Connecting Youth During the COVID-19 Pandemic. This infographic explores the impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on programs that support young people, ages 16-24, who experience disconnection from school and work, often referred to as "opportunity youth." It provides an overview of which education, job training, and supportive services, in addition to enrollment and implementation practices were added or ended during the first year (spring 2020 - spring 2021) of the pandemic by programs that help youth reconnect to education, obtain employment, and advance in the labor market.

(3) Continuity of Care Services Following Coordinated Specialty Care (CSC): An Environmental Scan. This report provides an overview of transition services for clients graduating from CSC. CSC Programs have been successfully implemented across the US, including through support from the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant set aside funds for people with early psychosis.

(4) Transition Options, Opportunities for Integration, and Funding Considerations Following Coordinated Specialty Care (CSC) Issue Brief. This brief provides a short overview of the different approaches to continuity of care for young adults who have attended CSC programs and explores avenues for integration within programs and organizations as a way to support young adults following completion of a CSC program.

(5) The Coordinated Specialty Care (CSC) Transition Study: Final Report. This report provides an overview of transition services for clients graduating CSC. It is a synthesis of findings from an environmental scan of programs and case studies of nine CSC programs.

(6) Welfare Indicators and Risk Factors, 21st Report to Congress. This report provides welfare dependence indicators through 2019 for most indicators and through 2020 for other indicators, reflecting changes that have taken place since enactment of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) in 1996.

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) U.S. Adults With Low Literacy and Numeracy Skills: 2012/14 to 2017. This report examines the U.S. adult population with low levels of English literacy and numeracy at two points in time using data from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). PIAAC is a large-scale international study of working-age adults (ages 16–65).

(2) English Language Development Among American Indian English Learner Students in New Mexico. This report describes a study, conducted by the Regional Educational Laboratory Southwest English Learners Research Partnership, to better understand progress toward English proficiency among American Indian English learner students who initially entered kindergarten in 2013/14 or 2014/15 in New Mexico public schools.

(3) 2017–18 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, Administrative Collection (NPSAS:18-AC): First Look at Student Financial Aid Estimates for 2017–18. This report describes the percentages of students receiving various types of financial aid and average amounts received, by type of institution attended and institution state (for undergraduate students), and by type of institution, attendance pattern, graduate program, and income level (for graduate students).

(4) Use of Supports among Students with Disabilities and Special Needs in College. This report uses data from the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS:09), a national study of more than 23,000 ninth-graders in 2009. It investigates whether students informed colleges of their disabilities or special needs and who received accommodations for them.

(5) The BASIE (BAyeSian Interpretation of Estimates) Framework for Interpreting Findings from Impact Evaluations: A Practical Guide for Education Researchers. BASIE is a framework for interpreting impact estimates from evaluations and is an alternative to null hypothesis significance testing. This report walks researchers through the key steps of applying BASIE, including selecting prior evidence, reporting impact estimates, interpreting impact estimates, and conducting sensitivity analyses.


U.S. Federal Funding Opportunities

The May 2022 FFO lists over 100 funding opportunities for research, evaluation, and dissemination. Below we highlight a few funding opportunities from this month's FFO:

  1. Grant to Conduct Secondary Data Analysis Evaluating Career Pathways Programs: An Administration for Children and Families (ACF) funding opportunity to support rigorous, policy-relevant secondary analysis of existing data sets to add to the body of knowledge and gain a deeper understanding of the implementation and effectiveness of career pathways programs. Applications are due by June 27, 2022.
  2. Grant to Establish a National Center for Disability, Equity, and Intersectionality: An Administration for Community Living (ACL) funding opportunity to create and maintain a national resource center on disability, equity, and intersectionality to build the capacity of communities across the nation to be more inclusive and culturally competent towards individuals with disabilities. Applications are due by June 27, 2022.
  3. Grant to Support a Neonatal Research Network Data Coordinating Center: A Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) funding opportunity for a Data Coordinating Center that will participate in the Neonatal Research Network (NRN), which ultimately aims to improve healthcare and outcomes for newborns. Applications are due by August 11, 2022.

Read about these and other funding opportunities.