Speaking of Education

One of our major advocacy initiatives has come to fruition. Consistent with the Board of Educational Affairs' strategic vision, we have been pursuing federal funds specifically designated for psychology education and training programs. Since no such program had existed before, we had to start from scratch.

Our first initiative was for a program in the Bureau of Health Professions, the Graduate Psychology Education program (GPE). Two years later, nearly $2 million has just been distributed to 18 doctoral and internship programs to support the preparation of psychologists to work with underserved populations (look for more details in future Monitor issues). Among the recipients were:

  • Texas Tech University for a cooperative venture between the clinical and counseling psychology programs for training in a low-income primary-care clinic of the Health Science Center and in the local Child Advocacy Center that also serves low-income and ethnic-minority clients.

  • University of North Carolina at Greensboro for interdisciplinary training with family practice and psychiatry residents to serve children from minority and economically disadvantaged backgrounds as well as young deaf children in the community.

  • University of Florida for collaboration between the department of clinical and health psychology and the department of community health and family medicine for training in primary-care clinics in rural settings.

  • University of Louisville for training doctoral students and internal medicine residents in integrated primary care.

  • Florida Mental Health Institute for training interns to work in community agencies, with a focus on mental health service delivery systems and policy development.

Although Nina Levitt, Sheila Forsyth and I worked intensely on GPE, we never could have achieved this outcome by ourselves. Herb Goldstein, APA Member and Florida constituent of Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.), chair of the House Appropriations Committee, played a critical role in championing our cause. We also activated the newly established Federal Education Advocacy Coordinators (FEDAC), a campus-based nationwide, education advocacy grassroots network to solidify the GPE program to its target level of $15 million to $20 million. In addition, last May we, along with APA Member Peter Nathan, sponsored a reception attended by members of the Iowa academic and practice communities. There, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) received an APA presidential citation for his support of psychological research, education and services to the underserved. Sen. Harkin was later instrumental in supporting more funding to GPE for education and training in geropsychology, with FEDAC grassroots activities playing a major role.

This month marks the first anniversary of FEDAC. We now have 14 regional coordinators and over 44 campus/training site-based representatives. We applaud these charter members of our network; they have been enormously successful in gaining support from their congressional delegations for GPE, and their successes have been historic for education advocacy.

Our goal is to have 20 regional coordinators who will recruit representatives at every major institution and training site across the full spectrum of psychology education and training. The FEDAC network does not compete with other psychology grassroots networks, but works collaboratively with them whenever possible.

Phase I has focused on doctoral programs given the current GPE appropriations objective and our own budgetary constraints, but it is only the beginning. About one-third of APA Members are employed in educational settings, and nearly one-half of our members engage in educational activities. In addition, APA has 64,000 student members and 2,300 high school teacher affiliates. These psychologists, students and faculty from hundreds of universities, colleges, professional schools and secondary schools have the potential to unite and become a powerful voice on Capitol Hill.

Advocacy is part of everyday life for those in education. Faculty constantly advocate for ideas and resources within the university or training setting. Some are active at state levels and federal levels as well. In my experience, faculty are very skillful advocates; it is the application of those skills to public policy that is foreign to some. To facilitate student learning about advocacy in public policy, we are developing a set of curriculum resources that we will post shortly on the Education Directorate Web site. Faculty can use these for themselves and in courses on professional development that are offered in many programs.

If you are interested in participating in FEDAC, please contact Sheila Forsyth. We need your involvement.

Note from APA: The appearance of advertisements for educational programs on this site does not constitute endorsement by APA. Programs that describe themselves as accredited may be accredited by another body, but are not accredited by APA unless so stated.