Education Advocacy Highlights
Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) Program
GPE MAY GET SIGNIFICANT FUNDING BOOST –In June the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Appropriations Subcommittee marked up its funding bill for the 2009 fiscal year. In the bill, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Subcommittee member and a real champion of the Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) program included $4 million for GPE. A funding level of $4 million is a significant increase for GPE; in fact, it is more than double the amount the program received in recent years ($1.8 million for FY 2006, 2007 and 2008). The increased funding would allow for reinstating the geropsychology training grants. The Senate’s comparable Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Appropriations bill marked-up later in June provided flat-funding for the GPE program; nevertheless, it included favorable report language for continuing the GPE program, which will be very helpful if there is a Conference to reconcile the differences in both bills.
In the meantime, Congress passed a Continuing Resolution, freezing programs under the Labor-HHS jurisdiction at their current funding level (i.e., about $2 million for the GPE Program) until March. If Congress takes action on the Labor-Health & Human Services-Education bill, we will fight for the $4 million. And should the VA authorizing bill, which contains statutory language requiring the VA to transfer $5 million to GPE (for a focus on returning military personnel) be reintroduced and pass early next year, the GPE funding level for FY 2009 will rise to at least $7 million.
Substance Abuse/Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
CAMPUS MENTAL & BEHAVIORAL HEALTH SERVICES – Education GRO staff are seeking the inclusion of S.3311, the Mental Health on Campus Improvement Act, in the SAMHSA reauthorization. S.3311 would provide critically needed mental and behavioral health services to students on campus. Through a competitive grant process, administered by SAMHSA, the Mental Health on Campus Improvement Act would enable institutions of higher education to use funds for providing mental and behavioral health services to students (prevention, screening, early intervention, assessment, treatment, management and educational services), employ appropriately trained staff; and expand training opportunities through internship, post-doctorate, and residency programs. In addition to supporting mental and behavioral health services for students, the bill outlines a National Public Education Campaign designed to focus on mental and behavioral health on college campuses as well as establishes an Interagency Working on College Mental Health.
We are also seeking the continuation of the Campus Suicide Prevention Program and an increase in its Authorization of Appropriations (increase the funding ceiling to $10 million). Authorized first as part of the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act and housed at SAMHSA, the Campus Suicide Prevention program is a small but effective competitive grant program that makes funds available to institutions of higher education to enhance education and outreach services to students with mental and behavioral health problems, such as depression, substance abuse, and suicide attempts.
ED GRO staff is currently working to garner additional Senate support for S. 3311 as well as try and get a House companion introduced. Staff will continue to work in the upcoming 111 th Congress to push for the inclusion of both programs as part of the reauthorization of SAMHSA.
On September 10 th, new grants were announced by SAMHSA as part of the Campus Suicide Prevention grant program. To date, there have been 72 grants (approximately $20 million) to institutions of higher education to assist colleges and universities in their efforts to prevent suicide and enhance educational services for students with mental and behavioral health problems that place them at risk for suicide. These grantees are working on campus to raise awareness and provide education to the campus community about the risks and warning signs of suicide. Further, they are communicating with each other and sharing best practices nation-wide with their colleagues in other colleges and universities.
WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT – Education GRO staff are taking the lead on promoting workforce issues for the SAMHSA reauthorization. Proposed are a number of new or improved workforce initiatives including: authorizing the Minority Fellowship Program (MFP), expanding the workforce data collection& analysis capability, and establishing a loan repayment program. Despite raising awareness about these issues and garnering a great deal of support, the draft Senate bill only contained language to allow for funding of interns and fellows. Fortunately the bill died and the reauthorization will be taken up again in the next Congress giving us another chance to pursue workforce development issues.
Center For Deployment Psychology
The Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP) was recently incorporated into the newly established Department of Defense Center of Excellence (DCoE) for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury to be the military arm for training health professionals for meeting the mental health needs of returning military personnel and their families. As an established permanent program, the CDP is expected to receive continued annual funding as part of the DCoE and will no longer need a separate Congressional appropriation each fiscal year. Nevertheless, Congressman Bill Young (R-FL) got report language in the Defense Appropriations bill that directs the Department of Defense to continue funding the CDP as part of the DCoE.
CDP HILL BRIEFING - In May, Education GRO collaborated with Public Interest GRO, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS), and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) to co-sponsor a congressional briefing titled “Addressing the Mental Health Needs of Service Members, Veterans, and their Families: Innovative Strategies for Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery”. This event was hosted in collaboration with Representatives Grace Napolitano (D-CA) and Tim Murphy (R-PA) and the Congressional Mental Health Caucus. Briefing presenters included APA members Bonnie Green, PhD, Georgetown University; William Saltzman, PhD, UCLA/National Child Traumatic Stress Center; Lt. Col. Jay Stone, PhD, Defense Center of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury; Amy Street, PhD, National Center for PTSD, VA Boston Healthcare System; and Iraq veteran, Tom Tarantino, representing IAVA. Briefing presenters spoke about a variety of important initiatives, including the work of the DoD Center for Deployment Psychology; the VA National Center for PTSD and their efforts focused on women veterans; and the National Child Traumatic Stress Network and their work with families of deployed soldiers.
The Higher Education Act Reauthorization
HR 4137, the Higher Education Opportunity Act – the bill reauthorizing the Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1965 – was passed by large majorities in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate on July 31, 2008. It was signed into law on August 14, 2008. The HEA includes many provisions of interest to members of APA. Education GRO worked with Congress and in partnership with other Associations to ensure the adoption of many of these provisions. The Education Directorate's Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation, under the leadership of Susan Zlotlow, PhD was heavily involved in the reauthorization process by helping to educate House and Senate staff about accreditation. These efforts ensured that HR 4137 included language that maintains the integrity and independence of the accreditation process.
The final legislation includes APA's definition for "teaching skills" with minor modifications. This definition is contained within Title II, Teacher Quality Enhancement, of the legislation. In general, this Title of the bill provides support to Institutions of Higher Education in partnership with other entities that train teachers in an effort to improve the pre-service educational opportunities for those prospective teachers. This definition ensures that greater consideration and required resources will be given to teaching the critical skills needed to deliver important content knowledge to students. Further, it recognizes the important contributions that psychology makes to teaching and learning. While a small step, it is one that acknowledges on the federal level the connection between psychology and improving educational opportunities for our nation's students. Education GRO was also successful in having "schools or department that focus on psychology or human development" included as eligible partners in the Teacher Quality Partnership Grants program.
Finally, the HEA now includes a new discretionary loan forgiveness program entitled, Loan Forgiveness for Service in Areas of National Need. Mental health professionals are eligible to participate in this program. Mental health professionals, for the purposes of this program are defined as "the individual has not less than a master's degree in social work, psychology or psychiatry and is employed full-time providing mental health services to students, adolescents, or veterans." Psychologists practicing in other areas may be eligible for benefits through other categories including possibly "public sector employees" and "child welfare workers." A recipient could receive $2,000 of an outstanding loan forgiven for each year employed in a specified field, with a maximum amount forgiven of $10,000. The funds for this program are subject to appropriations and will be made on a first-come, first-served, basis. Further details and regulations will be established by the Department of Education.
Community Health Center – Primary Care Initiative
On September 19th during the fall 2008 Consolidated Meetings in Washington, DC, the Education GRO and CRH hosted an all-day meeting on the role of psychologists and trainees in FQHCs. Attending were key APA members with interest and expertise in rural health, integrated health care, and those in underserved communities represented by the Public Interest Directorate Socioeconomic Status Committee. Other invited guests included Gina Capra, a representative for the US Bureau of Primary Health Care (BPHC) in the Health Resources and Services Administration, and Michael Lardiere of the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC). Both spoke about the FQHC program and the efforts to address the mental and behavioral health needs of the underserved. Dr. Newman and representatives of the California Central Valley FQHCs reported on efforts by community health centers in that state to employ psychologists. Parinda Khatri, PhD of the Cherokee Health Systems in Talbot, Tennessee presented on their integrated health care model, which includes medical, dental and mental health services, and on their psychology internship program. Kahtri noted that research provided by the Cherokee Health Systems illustrates that one of the benefits of integrated health care services is a significant decrease in medical utilization of Medicaid patients, including pediatric patients. Ben Miller, PsyD of the University of Massachusetts’ School of Medicine, shared information about his program's focus on integrated health care and its interdisciplinary approach to training, which uses an "integrated household" model that includes psychology interns, fellows and residents.
It became apparent at the meeting that some of the attendees have Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) grants including Gil Newman, PhD, from The Wright Institute ( Berkeley, CA); Parinda Khatri, PhD from a FQHC in Talbot, Tennessee; and Michael Lardiere of NACHC who was associated with the Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York when it had a GPE grant. Everyone noted that the interdisciplinary training required by the GPE grant is extremely worthwhile in preparing psychology students for work in integrated health care and the innumerable benefits that this approach provides for communities in need.
The goals of the meeting were to: 1) Learn what has worked to create positions for psychologists and psychology trainees in FQHCs; 2) create an action plan to translate lessons learned for use in CA and other states; and 3) build the foundation for a partnership among state psychological associations, state primary care associations, relevant federal agencies and national organizations, and the American Psychological Association to further the initiative.
A sample of the recommendations that were suggested included:
Facilitating important data collection/analysis (e.g., tracking patients in a disease registry) by connecting graduate programs of psychology with FQHCs.
Learn more about the “medical home” model and work to get the term changed to “health care home”.
Develop materials to educate FQHC administrators on the positive health outcomes of employing psychologists.
Train psychology students (future clinical leaders) on integrated health care and teach them how to deal with such barriers as reimbursement and licensing issues.
Develop talking points for use by individuals willing to reach out to their state PCA.
Education Advocacy Grassroots Actvities
2008 ELC ADVOCACY TRAINING AND HILL VISITS – Once again, the annual Education Leadership Conference (ELC) concluded with a very successful “lobby day” on Capitol Hill. Following several interactive advocacy training sessions, including one for novice advocates, over 100 ELC participants visited with Members of their Congressional Delegation and/or their staff urging that S. 3311, Mental Health on Campus Improve Act and the Campus Suicide Prevention Program be included when SAMHSA (Substance Abuse/Mental Health Services Administration) is reauthorized. As a result of their efforts, several Senators have indicated their support for the continuation of the Campus Suicide Prevention Program and a willingness to co-sponsor S. 3311. A number of House Members have indicated they will support both issues in the upcoming reauthorization.
2008 EDUCATION ADVOCACY DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARDS - Board of Education Affairs Chair, Gilbert Newman, PhD announced the recipients of the 2008 Education Advocacy Distinguished Service Awards. Josh Jacobs, Legislative Assistant to Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), was honored as the 2008 Friend of Psychology for his relentless efforts to improve Veterans mental health services. Dr. Michael Roberts then received the 2008 Education Advocacy Distinguished Service Award for his dedicated support of the education advocacy grassroots network since its inception in the early 1990’s. Dr. Roberts is a founding member of the Federal Education Advocacy Coordinators (FEDAC) grassroots network and currently serves as a FEDAC Campus/Training Representative at the University of Kansas. The final award was presented to Dr. Joanne Callan (Alliant International University-San Diego). Dr. Callan was honored as the first Executive Director for the APA Education Directorate. During her tenure, Callan established the Education Public Policy Office (now the Education Government Relations Office), initiated the annual Education Advocacy Breakfast meeting, and started the education grassroots network, forerunner to the Federal Education Advocacy Coordinators (FEDAC) grassroots network. Recognized for her vision and leadership, Dr. Callan was acknowledged as “the Mother of Education Advocacy.”
2008 EDUCATION ADVOCACY BREAKFAST – Once again the APA annual convention provided an opportunity for APA members and students to learn firsthand about legislative initiatives of importance to psychology. Hosted by the APA Education Government Relations Office, in partnership for the first time with the APA Public Interest Government Relations Office (GRO), attendees learned about legislative initiatives that the Education and Public Interest GRO are spearheading for APA related to the reauthorization of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Invited presenter Anna Marsh, PhD, Acting Director for the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) of SAMHSA, and a psychologist, spoke on behalf of Dr. Kathryn Power, Director of the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services.
ON-LINE ADVOCACY TRAINING WEBINARS– The Education GRO staff is pleased to announce that it is now offering on-line advocacy training Webinar sessions to APA members and graduate students. Since June 2008 two introductory Webinar sessions have been presented, with another planned for this fall. Education GRO staff is currently in the process of developing two more hour-long Webinars for more experienced advocates. One will focus on advocacy at all three levels of government (local, state, federal); and the other topic may focus on what to expect when reaching out to policy makers and their staff. For further information about the Education Advocacy Webinar Sessions, contact Jess Goshow
GROWING THE FEDERAL EDUCATION ADVOCACY COORDINATORS (FEDAC) GRASSROOTS NETWORK – Efforts to expand the FEDAC grassroots network continue. The goal is to have a designated Campus Training Representative at each of the 900 APA accredited programs/training sites across the country. JOIN US…YOU CAN TRULY MAKE A DIFFERENCE! Contact: Jess Goshow.