Policy Update: October 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: 2023-2024 SRCD U.S. Policy Fellowship Programs

We are seeking applicants for the SRCD U.S. Policy Fellowship Programs for the 2023-2024 academic year. There are two fellowship programs: federal and state. The fellowship programs aim to (1) provide fellows with firsthand experience in policymaking, program implementation, and evaluation; (2) provide Congress and executive branch agencies greater access to research expertise on a diverse range of child development topics to enhance evidence-based policy development, implementation, and evaluation that support diverse populations; and (3) build a network of experts that bridge developmental science, policymaking, and practice. All fellowships will run from September 1, 2023 to August 31, 2024.

What is the Federal Policy Fellowship Program? There are two types of federal fellowships: congressional and executive branch. Both fellowships are full-time immersion experiences in Washington, D.C., where fellows work as resident scholars within congressional or federal executive branch agency offices. We welcome applications from early, mid-career, and advanced professionals. More information about the program, application requirements, and the submission process is available on the SRCD website.

What is the State Policy Post-Doctoral Fellowship Program? This fellowship is a full-time immersion experience where fellows work as resident scholars in state executive branch agency offices. Fellows will receive support from a state supervisor and SRCD staff during the fellowship experience. More information about the program, application requirements, and the submission process is available on the SRCD website.

SRCD embraces a commitment to, and support for, diversity in the child development field. This includes training and engaging a workforce that is representative of diversity in all its forms. We encourage fellowship applications from scholars of color, scholars from underrepresented cultural and ethnic backgrounds, scholars from low-income backgrounds, first-generation college graduates, scholars with disabilities, and scholars from the LGBTQIA+ community.


Legislative Branch Updates

FY 2023 Appropriations Update

President Biden Signs Stopgap Funding Bill Into Law

On September 30, President Biden signed H.R. 6833, a Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 stopgap funding measure, into law. Congress averted a government shutdown last month by passing a short term continuing resolution (CR) that keeps the federal government operational until December 16. While fiscal year (FY) 2023 officially began on October 1, as has become commonplace, Congress has yet to complete its work on the FY 2023 appropriations bills. Lawmakers will return to Washington after the November midterm elections at which time they will revisit the FY 2023 funding debate. You can follow FY 2023 funding coverage on the COSSA website.

Summary adapted from the Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA Washington Update). For more information, read COSSA’s in-depth analysis of the FY 2023 budget request.

H.R. 7780: Mental Health Matters Act Passes House

On September 29, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 7780, the Mental Health Matters Act, with a 220 - 205 vote. H.R. 7780, aims to support the “...behavioral needs of students and youth, invest in the school-based behavioral health workforce, and ensure access to mental health and substance use disorder benefits.” This bill would address the combined effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the opioid crisis on children’s social and emotional development by expanding access to school-based mental health services and improving access to trauma-informed supports. According to the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor, “In 2021, over 44 percent of high-school students experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, almost 20 percent seriously considered suicide, and 9 percent attempted suicide. In 2016, roughly 1 in 6 U.S. children aged 2-8 years had a diagnosed mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder. Given the life-long consequences of adverse experiences and trauma on children, it is crucial that we improve the mental health of our nation’s young people.” H.R. 7780 now goes to the Senate for consideration. For more information about the bill, read the Committee on Education and Labor’s fact sheet.

Hearings of Interest

Meeting Students’ Academic, Social, and Emotional Needs. On September 20, the Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee of the House Education and Labor Committee held a hearing on “Back to School: Meeting Students’ Academic, Social, and Emotional Needs.” View the witness list, recording, and read witness testimonies.

The Unemployment Insurance System: Opportunities for Improvement. On September 21, the Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee of the House Education and Labor Committee held a hearing on “Examining the Administration of the Unemployment Insurance System.” View the witness list, recording, and read witness testimonies.

America’s Health Care Infrastructure and the Climate Crisis. On September 15, the House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on “Preparing America’s Health Care Infrastructure for the Climate Crisis.” View the witness list, recording, and read witness testimonies.


Executive Branch Updates


White House Releases Presidential Management Learning Agenda

In September, the White House released the final President’s Management Agenda (PMA) Learning Agenda, which identifies questions in need of answering in order to achieve an “equitable, effective, and accountable [federal] government that delivers results for all Americans.” According to COSSA, the 2018 Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (“Evidence Act”) called on the Federal Government to make decisions using the best available evidence. In 2021, the Biden Administration issued guidance (memorandum M-21-27) affirming the Administration’s commitment to the goals of the Evidence Act and expanding on previously released guidance related to Learning Agendas and Annual Evaluation Plans. The PMA Learning Agenda [sic] details learning gaps that exist across the federal government and “[encourages] research within, beyond, and in partnership with Government” to address them.

The PMA Learning Agenda identifies three learning areas of focus:

  1. How can the Federal Government strengthen and empower its workforce, so it can best serve the American people?
  2. How can the Federal Government deliver programs and services effectively and build trust? 
  3. How can the Federal Government advance equity and support underserved communities?

The document contains additional questions within each of these areas and links to the learning agendas of individual federal agencies, which were finalized over the last several months. Going forward, the White House states that it will engage researchers, public servants, community members, philanthropic organizations, customers of government services, and others to help address the gaps identified in the PMA and federal agency learning agendas. In the meantime, you can sign up to receive updates on the federal government’s evidence-building activities and provide your ideas and comments by emailing PMALearningAgenda@omb.eop.gov.

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

Arati Prabhakar Confirmed as Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

On September 22, the U.S. Senate confirmed Dr. Arati Prabhakar as Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology (OSTP) with a 56-40 vote. Upon announcing his decision to nominate Dr. Prabhakar for the position, President Biden shared, “[Dr. Prabhakar] is a brilliant and highly-respected engineer and applied physicist and will lead the Office of Science and Technology Policy to leverage science, technology, and innovation to expand our possibilities, solve our toughest challenges, and make the impossible possible...I share Dr. Prabhakar’s belief that America has the most powerful innovation machine the world has ever seen.” Of note, Dr. Prabhakar was the first woman to lead the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and, upon confirmation, she became the first woman and person of color confirmed by the Senate to serve as Director of the OSTP.

Dr. Alondra Nelson, the Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Director for Science and Society, served as Director of the OSTP in an interim capacity when President Biden’s previous OSTP Director, Dr. Eric Lander, resigned earlier this year. According to Dr. Nelson, “Over the course of [Dr. Prabhakar’s] career, Dr. Prabhakar’s leadership has propelled solutions to some of the most pressing problems facing American society. At the helm of NIST and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), she demonstrated a rare ability to work across silos and sectors to forge consensus and deliver important accomplishments.” For more information about Dr. Prabhakar and the nomination, read President Biden’s statement and Dr. Nelson’s statement.

President Biden Announces Appointment of Renee Wegrzyn as Director of ARPA-H

On September 12, President Joe Biden announced his intention to appoint Dr. Renee Wegrzyn as the first director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H). ARPA-H is 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 capacity to expedite biomedical and health research. As Inaugural Director, Dr. Wegrzyn is responsible for managing ARPA-H’s associated budget and numerous programs, including advancing the U.S.’ ability to prevent, detect, and treat intractable diseases. Dr. Wegrzyn, has experience working for the two organizations that ARPA-H is based on - the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA). Dr. Wegrzyn was previously a Program Manager in the Biological Technologies Office (BTO) of DARPA and received the Superior Public service medal for her contributions.

OBBSR Requests Comments on Draft Priorities for 2023 – 2028 Strategic Plan

The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBBSR) at National Institute of Health (NIH) released a request for information (RFI) on draft priorities for their 2023-2028 Strategic Plan. OBSSR is seeking feedback specifically on proposed scientific priorities and cross-cutting themes for the office’s next strategic plan. OBSSR’s current scientific priorities are threefold: “Improve the synergy between basic behavioral and social sciences research and research testing approaches to improve health outcomes”; “Enhance and promote research measures, methods, and infrastructure needed to support an integrated and more cumulative approach to behavioral and social sciences research”; and “Accelerate sustained adoption of behavioral and social sciences research findings in practice.” OBSSR is additionally looking for feedback regarding their cross-cutting themes, including the Integration of BSSR across NIH Research; Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA); Training and Capacity Building; and Science of Science. Read the full RFI for more information about this opportunity. Interested parties should submit comments by November 14, 2022, at 11:59 PM EDT.

NICHD RFI: Research Needs and Infrastructure Support for Newborn Screening Research

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) released a Request for Information (RFI) on Future Research Needs and Infrastructure Support for Newborn Screening Research. The primary aim of the RFI is to “... seek public input and novel ideas to help identify the future research needs for newborn screening (NBS), and how to enhance the current NBS research infrastructure provided through NICHD’s Newborn Screening Translational Research Network (NBSTRN) to best support these future needs.” Read the full RFI for more information about this opportunity and consider submitting a comment. Interested parties should submit comments by November 4, 2022, at 11:59 pm Eastern.

Call for Nominations: 2023 Golden Goose Award

The Golden Goose Award is accepting nominations for the 2023 award cycle. The Golden Goose Award aims to “...demonstrate the human and/or economic benefits of federally funded scientific research. It is also intended to demonstrate that scientific outcomes build upon each other and that the technological advances that flow from them cannot easily be predicted at the outset of a particular scientific research project. The award highlights and honors examples of scientific studies or research that may have seemed obscure, sounded ‘funny,’ or for which the results were totally unforeseen at the outset, but which ultimately led, often serendipitously, to major breakthroughs that have had significant societal impact.” For more information about this opportunity and the eligibility requirements, please read the Golden Goose’s nomination informationNominations will be accepted on a rolling basis until December 18, 2022.

Call for Nominations: Chafee Strengthening Outcomes for Transition to Adulthood (Chafee SOTA)

The John H. Chafee Foster Care Program for Successful Transition to Adulthood (Chafee Program), which funds state and tribal programs that support children transitioning out of foster care has released a call for nominations. More specifically, the Chafee SOTA Project is currently seeking nominations “...of organizations or programs that help youth transitioning out of foster care to successful adulthood.” Chafee SOTA is interested in hearing from “established programs serving youth in or transitioning out of foster care (ages 14-26) for evaluation using innovative research methods.” They are particularly interested in programs that work with youth in the following areas: (a) developing youth’s life skills (both hard and soft skills); (b) housing stability; (c) building supportive relationships; (d) educational support; (e) pregnancy prevention; (f) mentoring; (g) health and behavioral services; (h) financial literacy; (i) employment and job-training; and (j) peer-led and peer-based supports. For more information about this opportunity, visit the nomination 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 (HHS):

(1) Introducing the Reasonable Efforts Findings Study (REFS). This report describes the REFS Study and what it seeks to learn about judicial decision-making in child welfare hearings, data the study will collect, the study sample, and the importance of the study to the legal community.

(2) Considerations in Conducting Child Care and Early Education (CCEE) Facilities Needs Assessments. This report provides a synopsis of research findings and key considerations about how states/territories could conduct  CCEE facilities needs assessments that could be compiled into a national estimate of facility remediation needs and costs.

(3) Supporting Transitions in Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS). This report explores how MSHS programs uniquely support the frequent transitions, including the transition to kindergarten, that children in migrant and seasonal families may experience.

(4) Do Education and Training Vouchers (ETV) Make a Difference for Young Adults in Foster Care? This report uses administrative data from 10 states to describe how ETV programs operate, who receives ETV vouchers, how and when they are used, and the educational outcomes for young adults who receive ETVs compared with their peers who do not receive ETVs.

(5) Improving Home Visitor Professional Well-Being: A Resource for State and Tribal Home Visiting Programs, Model Representatives, and Local Programs. This report offers concrete ways for home visiting programs, models, and local agencies to measure and strengthen professional well-being. It focuses on five key drivers theorized to influence home visitor job satisfaction: psychological well-being, job meaning and fulfillment, and self-efficacy and confidence.

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 (HHS): 

(1) Linking Medicaid Claims, Birth Certificates, and Other Sources to Advance Maternal and Infant Health. This report presents findings of a project that aims to better understand the current status of these data linkages and identify potential next steps for a consolidated approach to performing them. 

(2) Equitable Evaluation Series: Principles of Equitable Communication. In this report, the Addressing Bias in Language (ABL) Workgroup of the HHS Evidence and Evaluation (E&E) Council describes principles for equitable communication within the context of program evaluation and other forms of evidence building. 

(3) Many Children in Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Safety Net Programs Are Eligible for Nutrition Assistance But Are Not Enrolled. This report analyzes the number of children served by HHS safety net programs who were eligible but not enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), in 2018. 

(4) HHS Roadmap for Behavioral Health Integration. This report introduces the Roadmap, which advances the President’s Strategy to Address our National Mental Health Crisis. It provides a general overview of the approach HHS is taking to drive toward integrated care within the three pillars of the President’s Strategy and highlights selected programs and policy actions. 

(5) Factsheet: Estimates of Child Care Eligibility & Receipt for Fiscal Year 2019. This factsheet provides descriptive information on child care subsidy eligibility and receipt, including which children are mostly likely to receive subsidies, for example by age, income, and race.

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. Technical Report and User Guide for the 2019 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). This report provides an overview of the design and implementation of TIMSS 2019 in the United States and includes guidance for researchers using the U.S. datasets.

(2) Changes Between 2011 and 2019 in Achievement Gaps Between High- and Low-Performing Students in Mathematics and Science: International Results From the International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). This report uses data from the 2011 and 2019 TIMSS, and explores how achievement gaps between high- and low-performing 4th- and 8th-grade students in the U.S. and other education systems have changed over time.

(3) Practical Measurement for Continuous Improvement in the Classroom: A Toolkit for Educators. This toolkit is designed to guide educators in developing and improving practical measurement instruments for use in networked improvement communities (NICs) and other education contexts in which principles of continuous improvement are applied.

(4) Early Postsecondary Education and Work Outcome Differences By High School Credential Type. 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. The analysis is based on about 17,300 HSLS:09 ninth-graders who participated in the second follow-up or for whom student records or transcripts were collected.

(5) Effects of Reclassifying English Learner Students on Student Achievement in New Mexico. This report examines how attaining English proficiency and being reclassified as fluent English proficient affected achievement in English language arts and math in the first year after student reclassification in grades 3–8 in New Mexico.


U.S. Federal Funding Opportunities

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

Grants to Support New Investigators Studying the Prevention of Interpersonal Violence Among Children and Youth: A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funding opportunity to provide support for an intensive, supervised (mentored) career development experience for researchers interested in violence prevention research leading to research independence. Applications are due by January 4, 2023.

Grant to Support Research on Learning Disabilities in Children, Youth, and Young Adults: A Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) funding opportunity to support Learning Disabilities Research Centers that will generate new scientific knowledge to inform understanding of specific learning disorders (SLDs) and comorbid conditions through synergistic, integrated, team-based transdisciplinary science. Applications are due by December 29, 2022. 

Grant to Study the Neurocognitive Effects of Structural Racism on Substance Use Trajectory: A National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) funding opportunity to support clinical research at Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) focused on the complex effects of structural racism and its impact on neurocognition, with an emphasis on reducing Substance Use Disorder (SUD) risk and informing preventative interventions. Applications are due on November 14, 2022. 

Grant to Support Intervention Research on Tobacco Cessation Among Adolescents: A National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding opportunity to support studies that develop, test, implement, and evaluate behavioral tobacco cessation interventions for adolescents, with a focus on the critical developmental risk period of mid- to late adolescence (approximately 14-20 years old). Applications are due by January 23, 2023. 

Read about these and other funding opportunities.