Public Policy

Status of federal policy action on children, youth and families and related resources – summer 2017

An update from the APA Public Interest-Government Relations Office (PI-GRO).

By Micah A. Haskell-Hoehl

Micah A. Haskell-HoehlAs summer firmly takes hold in Washington, D.C., we are reflecting on office accomplishments from the first half of 2017 and planning efforts for the second half of the year. Headwinds faced by advocates at the federal level of all stripes remain; challenges for APA's priorities on children, youth and families (CYF) issues include an unclear and ever-evolving agenda coming from the White House; and Congress is being consumed by the top-line issues of health care and tax reform and an overall policy climate that is hostile to domestic discretionary programs and funding.

That said, we are pleased to report steady and successful efforts on a number of CYF issues. Below is an outline of these activities, along with updates on more cross-cutting APA government relations efforts.

Take Action on Home Visiting

On July 12, 2017, APA participated in the National Home Visiting Day of Action to support the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program. Join us in asking Congress to reauthorize the program to ensure it continues in its current form. Voluntary home visiting programs play a critical role in early childhood development by providing parents with health, developmental and safety education; linkage to community services and social support.

Family homelessness briefing based on Div. 37 publication and related, critical legislation

In conjunction with the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA), the National Center for Housing and Child Welfare and SchoolHouse Connection, APA held a June 6, 2017, congressional briefing on Escaping Homelessness: Helping Families Reach Their Full Potential. The briefing was bi-partisan/-cameral and sponsored by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (CA) and Rob Portman (OH) and Reps. Dave Loebsack (IA-2) and Steve Stivers (OH-15), co-sponsors of the Homeless Children and Youth Act.

The briefing highlighted new research published in the Div. 37 book series Advances in Child and Family Policy and Practice, as well as the CWLA journal Child Welfare. Speakers included Preston Britner, PhD; Carmela DeCandia, PsyD; Anne Farell, PhD; Mary Haskett, PhD; Ruth Anne White, MSSA and Grace Whitney, PhD, MPA, IMH-E. The panel shared recent findings illuminating the urgent need for communities to respond more effectively to growing homelessness among children, families and unaccompanied youth, highlighted by this powerful video, Nowhere to Go: Family Homelessness in America

Speakers also pointed to The Homeless Children and Youth Act (S. 611/HR. 1511) as a promising legislative solution. This bill would reduce confusion about eligibility for HUD funds, restore control to communities and incentivize interventions that reduce homeless episodes and ensure that children and youth have access to evidence-based programs.

Our office is extremely grateful to the authors whose work was featured in the child and family homelessness edition of Advances and to Div. 37 for its logistical and financial support, without which this briefing would not have been possible. A tremendous thank you to you all.

Additional materials:

Trauma-Informed Care for Children and Families Act of 2017

APA joined a coalition of groups in signing on in support of the Trauma-Informed Care for Children and Families Act of 2017 (S. 774/H.R. 1757). The legislation seeks to increase federal support for preventing trauma in high-risk populations and providing trauma-informed care for America's young people and families through mechanisms that include:

  • A Task Force charged with recommending best practices.
  • Disseminating best practices.
  • Training for community members and professionals in diverse fields.
  • Allowing existing programs across the federal government to support training in trauma-informed care.
  • Additional support to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, to perform evaluation of new prevention and intervention strategies.
  • Support for culturally competent approaches.

Lead sponsors in the U.S. Senate and House are Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (SD) and Rep. Danny Davis (IL-7).

Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) reauthorization

APA joined over 1,200 other groups in signing on to a letter urging Congress to ensure an extension of CHIP, before the program expires on Oct. 1. CHIP provides health coverage to millions of children from families with earnings that disqualify them from accessing Medicaid but that won't cover the cost of private insurance. Despite longstanding bipartisan support for the program, Congress is nearing its deadline to extend CHIP funding and this is making it difficult for states, which administer CHIP funds, to plan their budgets for the coming fiscal year.

Join Our Efforts

Federal Action Network

To join APA's advocacy to influence federal legislative and executive branch activities pertaining to children, youth and families and other areas of key importance to psychology, join the APA Federal Action Network.