APA federal policy update

An update from the APA Public Interest — Government Relations Office.
By Micah A. Haskell-Hoehl

Micah A. Haskell-Hoehl It is with extremely mixed emotions that I write these words: This will be my final article for the Section on Child Maltreatment Newsletter . I have accepted a position in the Vera Institute of Justice Washington Office; while this is a very exciting opportunity, there will be so much about the work at APA I will miss — first and foremost, all of you and the other incredible APA members, division members and fierce advocates working on child issues. You all not only bring immense passion to your work but are such a joy to work with. Thank you all for your incredible leadership, partnership and everything you have taught me over what has been an amazing 11 years. During the transition period, please contact Ben Vonachen regarding any questions, thoughts or concerns on APA’s children, youth and families policy portfolio. 

And yet, the work goes on. It’s been an alternatingly exciting and tragic few months on the child and family policy front, and I’m pleased to be able to communicate the below updates on APA PI-GRO and federal government activities.

Family separation and unaccompanied minors at the U.S.-Mexico border

As part of APA’s ongoing response to the tragic situation facing children and families at the U.S.-Mexico border

  • APA President Jessica Henderson Daniel, PhD, ABPP, released a July 26 statement to the press.
  • APA CEO Arthur Evans, PhD, recorded a message on trauma and mental health concerns distributed by Senate Democrats.
  • The association has engaged in a number of additional high-level activities outlined in the “Recent APA Advocacy Related to Immigration” section of our Immigration advocacy webpage.

Family First Prevention Services Act

On July 20, APA provided its response (PDF, 564KB) to a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) request for comment (RFC) on a new clearinghouse of programs under the recently enacted Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA). The request solicited feedback on evidence standards for programs to include as well as for program nominations to include in the clearinghouse. APA designed a survey to gather input from APA and division members on programs that should be included, performed an internal review to ensure a high likelihood of inclusion by HHS, and collated the information for easy analysis by HHS. 

Additionally, APA signed on to comments (PDF, 216KB) authored by psychologists at the Penn State Center for Healthy Children addressing questions in the RFC about evidence standards. 

The Association will continue to roll out information about FFPSA implementation until the law fully comes online Oct. 1, 2019.

Meeting with Children’s Bureau/Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) leadership

On July 27, PI-GRO and APA Violence Prevention Office staff met with Jerry Milner, DSW, associate commissioner for the Children’s Bureau and acting commissioner for ACYF at HHS, and other senior agency staff. Milner’s portfolio includes operation of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) and implementation of FFPSA. The conversation covered several key topics, including Milner’s goals for his time at the helm of the agency, outlining the strengths of the APA ACT Raising Safe Kids program, and offering the expertise of APA and its membership in support of agency activities. Milner emphasized his focus on primary prevention and the importance of Title II of CAPTA, which is the only federal program geared toward preventing the first instance of child maltreatment. The meeting also came on the heels of Milner’s appearance at a congressional hearing, “The Opioid Crisis: Implementation of Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA).” A full recording of the hearing and Milner’s written testimony are available for review on the committee website.

Homeless Children and Youth Act

On July 24, the House Financial Services Committee passed the Homeless Children and Youth Act (HCYA, H.R. 1511) out of committee by a vote of 39-18. The legislation seeks to amend the Department of Housing and Urban Development definition of homelessness to allow for expanded services for additional groups of young people, such as those staying on the couch of a friend or family member. APA has endorsed this critical legislation and included co-sponsorship for the bill as the central ask in a 2017 congressional briefing on child and family homelessness. Advocates are hopeful that the bill can make it to the president’s desk before the current congressional session comes to a close later this year.

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