Skip to main content

Public Policy News – March 2020


CSWE ADVOCACY AND OUTREACH

CSWE Honors Rep. Susan Davis; Congressional Staffer Addresses Spring Governance 

WHITE HOUSE AND FEDERAL AGENCY NEWS

Federal Efforts to Address COVID-19 Impacts

Aging, Maternal Health, and Student Loan Federal Policy Efforts

Congressional Action to Reduce Childhood Poverty

MEMBER RESOURCES

DOJ Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Grant Opportunity

 

CSWE ADVOCACY AND OUTREACH 

CSWE Honors Rep. Susan Davis; Congressional Staffer Addresses Spring Governance
On March 4, 2020, CSWE honored Representative Susan Davis (D-CA), a former social worker and retiring member of the U.S. House of Representatives, with a lifetime achievement award. CSWE President Darla Coffey and Chair of the Board of Directors Saundra Starks presented Representative Davis with the award and discussed the impact that being a social worker had on her time in Congress. Additionally, participants in CSWE’s Spring Governance meeting heard from Emma Mehrabi, legislative director for Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA). During the meeting, Mehrabi discussed her experience as a social worker in a congressional office. Advice for meeting attendees included the importance of following-up with offices when requesting help and sharing research in a way that policymakers can use.


WHITE HOUSE AND FEDERAL AGENCY NEWS

Federal Efforts to Address COVID-19 Impacts
Congress recently passed and the president signed into law an $8.3 billion emergency supplemental funding package aimed at addressing coronavirus (COVID-19). Although the plans for disbursing this funding to researchers and public health professionals are still pending, much of the funding will support efforts at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, specifically at the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, National Institutes of Health, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As a result, last week the CDC announced that more than $500 million in response grants will be distributed to state and local health departments. Congress is developing a second and possible third package to address the impacts of the pandemic; those packages probably will include efforts to address diagnostic testing, nutrition, and unemployment benefits. Beyond this new funding, provisions related to paid family and medical leave, unemployment benefits, and tax credits are also being considered. H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, passed the U.S. House but faces challenges from Senate Republicans about its impact on small businesses. The Senate is also in discussions with the White House regarding a third economic stimulus package.

CSWE continues to monitor the impact of this public health emergency on higher education. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has a COVID-19 website with resources, and ED’s Office of Federal Student Aid’s website has information for students, borrowers, and parents. ED posted guidance for institutions of higher education on March 5 related to interruptions of study, outlining increased flexibility for Title IV aid programs. This includes offering broad approval to move students into distance learning without regular approval and waiving accreditor review requirements. CSWE has developed resources for programs, as has the National Association of Social Workers.
 

Aging, Maternal Health, and Student Loan Federal Policy Efforts
This month Congress introduced and advanced several bills of importance to CSWE members. Congress passed and the president is expected to sign into law the long-awaited Older Americans Act (H.R. 4334), which reauthorizes important home and community-based services for older adults and caregivers through 2024. This legislation was advanced at a critical time, especially because older adults will rely more on in-house meals services during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, members of the Black Maternal Health Caucus—Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-IL), Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC), and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA)—introduced the Black Maternal Health Momnibus, a legislative package of nine bills aimed at ending preventable maternal mortality and reducing racial disparities. The package addresses social determinants of health, provides funding to community-based organizations working to improve maternal health outcomes, and addresses maternal mental health-care and substance use disorder treatments, among other activities. Although Congress will probably continue to focus on COVID-19, CSWE continues to support the legislation mentioned above and other issues such as the Employer Participation in Repayment Act (S. 460/H.R. 1043), which would support making student loan payments by employers tax-exempt up to $5,250 a year.


Congressional Action to Reduce Childhood Poverty
The U.S. House committee overseeing funding for federal agencies important to social work hosted a hearing titled “Reducing Childhood Poverty” on March 3. The hearing highlighted the study from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine titled “A Roadmap to Reducing Child Poverty,” which was the first federally funded study on child poverty. The study was released in February 2019, and it outlined several policies that might cut childhood poverty in half over the next 10 years. Congress asked this committee to review research regarding the links between child poverty and child well-being, analyze the poverty-reducing effects of major assistance programs for children and families, and provide policy and program recommendations for reducing the number of children living in poverty.

This study was commissioned by Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA). Representative Lee chairs the Majority Leader’s Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity (and is chair of the Congressional Social Work Caucus), and she recognized how important it was to hold this hearing to inform the work of Congress. Stating that “it is a moral outrage that in the richest nation on earth, there are still millions of children living in poverty,” Representative Lee also noted the importance of considering the issue of systemic racism and child poverty because each witness at the hearing identified systematic racism as an underlying issue. The committee plans to use some of the recommendations from the report to determine how Congress can craft policy initiatives to advance this effort.


MEMBER RESOURCES

DOJ Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Grant Opportunity
Applications are due by April 28, 2020, for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency’s Second Chance Act Youth Offender Reentry Program. The program encourages collaboration among state agencies, local government, and community- and faith-based organizations to address the challenges that reentry and recidivism reduction pose for moderate to high-risk juvenile offenders returning to their communities from juvenile residential or correctional facilities.