Public Policy Update

This year, many APA members took the opportunity to speak out on behalf of science and education funding and the expansion of mental health services for underserved populations, among other issues.

APA's Public Policy Office applauds psychologists who answered our pleas (some at the last minute) to present their research findings on Capitol Hill, or made their views known in person to members of Congress or congressional staff. We also acknowledge the many members who advocated for psychology through the APA Practice Organization.

Congressional testimony

Norman B. Anderson, PhD, APA's CEO, presented APA's testimony regarding funding for the National Institutes of Health, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Graduate Psychology Education program to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. Merry Bullock, PhD, of APA's Science Directorate, testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, and Independent Agencies in support of increased funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF), NASA and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Christopher Sager, PhD, of the Human Resources Research Organization, testified before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, expressing APA's concern over the president's proposed budget cuts to human-centered defense research programs for fiscal year 2005.

An impressive contingent of psychologists testified this spring and summer before the Subcommittee on Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee on issues concerning child and adolescent mental health. Cheryl King, PhD, of the University of Michigan, testified about the importance of prevention strategies in reducing youth suicide. Roger Weissberg, PhD, of the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Sandra Brown, PhD, of the University of California, San Diego, provided testimony on substance abuse prevention and treatment services for adolescents.

On April 28, Louise Douce, PhD, of Ohio State University, also testified before the Senate Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Subcommittee, chaired by Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio). The hearing was convened to help subcommittee members better understand the needs, strengths and problems of mental health services for children and young adults.

Citing statistics on the importance of mental and behavioral health services on college campuses, Douce promoted APA's legislative proposal, the Campus Care and Counseling Act. Introduced in March of this year by Sens. DeWine, Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Gordon Smith (R-N.H.), the legislation authorizes $5 million for competitive grants to centers on college campuses to provide student mental and behavioral health services. It was added to the Garrett Lee Smith bill, S. 2634, which was signed into law on Oct. 21. At the same hearing, Joy Osofky, PhD, of Louisiana State University, discussed the mental health of infants and toddlers.

Thomas McClellan, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania, and Hendree Jones, PhD, of Johns Hopkins University, discussed performance and outcome measurement in substance abuse prevention before the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources. McClellan testified a second time before the Senate HELP Subcommittee on Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services. Nicholas Zill, PhD, of Westat Inc., testified at a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee hearing titled, "Social scientific data on the impact of marriage and divorce on children."

In May, Joanne Cantor, PhD, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, testified before a House Judiciary Subcommittee on the effects of media violence on children. At an APA co-sponsored press event in June, Dale Kunkel, PhD, of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Sandra Calvert, PhD, of Georgetown University, discussed the implications of digital television technology and interactive programming for children and families. In March, Donna Cohen, PhD, of the University of South Florida, testified at a hearing of the Senate Special Committee on Aging titled, "Crimes without criminals? Seniors, dementia and the aftermath."

Congressional briefings

Tom Coates, PhD, of the University of California, Los Angeles, and Janet Shibley Hyde, PhD, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, presented research findings on HIV and STD prevention and sexuality in marriage at a briefing on Capitol Hill, highlighting successes in the field of sexuality research and stressing its importance for public health. Alan Leshner, PhD, of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, moderated the briefing.

Jacqueline Dunbar-Jacob, PhD, of the University of Pittsburgh, and James Hill, PhD, of the University of Colorado, spoke to congressional staff at a breakfast briefing co-sponsored by APA about applying research on the self-management of chronic illness. Charles Bond, PhD, of Texas Christian University, and Mark Frank, PhD, of Rutgers University, gave presentations on their research on the detection of deception and its applications to homeland security goals.

Following intense press coverage of the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal, Steven Breckler, PhD, APA's executive director for science, and Kevin Murphy, PhD, of Pennsylvania State University, discussed relevant psychological research on individual and group behavior, obedience to authority, military leadership and personnel selection and training at a briefing on Capitol Hill.

Together with APA's Div. 9 (Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues), APA sponsored a congressional briefing in June, "Never too late to heal: Positive aging and the aftermath of trauma," which featured APA members Martha Crowther, PhD, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Mary Armsworth, PhD, of the University of Houston, and Joan Cook, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania. Also presenting at APA co-sponsored briefings were Rodney Hammond, PhD, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on the public health prevention of child sexual abuse, and Alan Berman, PhD, of the Washington Psychological Center, on the role of the National Violent Death Reporting System in helping to prevent suicide.

Supporting NSF

Mark Frank, PhD, was APA's exhibitor at the Coalition for National Science Funding exhibit and reception on Capitol Hill, which showcased research funded by NSF. Frank presented his cutting-edge research on enhancing the ability of computer programs to detect deception from facial expressions. At the reception, APA members Nora Newcombe, PhD, of Temple University, and Wendy Rogers, PhD, of the University of Georgia, were featured as guests of the Society for Research in Child Development and the Federation for Behavioral, Psychological and Cognitive Sciences, respectively.

Advocacy in action

An APA division and three of APA's Public Interest committees (with their liaisons) participated in tailor-made advocacy training programs conducted by APA Public Interest Policy staff, who helped prepare them for visits with their elected representatives on Capitol Hill. APA's Div. 35 (Society for the Psychology of Women) and Committee on Women in Psychology (CWP) advocated for legislation to aid female victims of domestic violence in January and February, respectively. The Div. 35 members included Jacqueline White, PhD, Jayne Stake, PhD, Linda Beckman, PhD, Nancy Baker, PhD, and Sarah Weisenbach Wright, PhD; and the CWP members included Louise Silverstein, PhD, and Carla Bradshaw, PhD.

In March, members and liaisons of the Committee on Disability Issues in Psychology, including Alan Goldberg, PsyD, JD, Daniel Holland, PhD, Rhoda Olkin, PhD, Izabela Schultz, PhD, and Terry DeRocher Lerma, PhD, advocated for legislation to enable middle-income families to buy into the Medicaid program to obtain mental health services for their children with disabilities. In October, members of the Committee on Children, Youth and Families, including Nancy Hill, PhD, Larke Huang, PhD, Kathy Katz, PhD, Susan Limber, PhD, and John Lochman, PhD, met with their U.S. representatives to support legislation that would enable parents to avoid relinquishing custody to obtain mental health services for their children.

These visits were part of the new Coordinated Advocacy Campaign of the Public Policy Office, which involves APA member meetings in the local or state offices of members of Congress.

Science advocacy workshop

Nine psychologists who conduct research on sexuality and sexual behavior came to APA headquarters in Washington, D.C., to participate in this year's science advocacy workshop: "Protecting sexual behavior research." Participants in the weekend training included Anne Bowen, PhD, of the University of Wyoming, Geri Donenberg, PhD, of the University of Illinois at Chicago, Brian Gladue, PhD, of the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Erick Janssen, PhD, of the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University; Tooru Nemoto, PhD, of the University of California, San Francisco, Jeanette Norris, PhD, of the University of Washington, Jeffrey Parsons, PhD, of Hunter College of the City University of New York, Simon Rosser, PhD, of the University of Minnesota, and Stephanie Tortu, PhD, of Tulane University. The workshop participants met with more than 30 congressional offices to urge their representatives and senators to oppose legislative amendments or language that would restrict funding for peer-reviewed research.

Advocating for education and training

Herb Goldstein, PhD, a private practitioner from St. Petersburg, Fla., and an Education Advocacy Distinguished Service Award winner, met with Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.), chair of the House Appropriations Committee, to advocate for an increase in federal funding for the Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) program in fiscal year 2005.

Other APA members made visits to their senators and representatives with the same request. Kristofer Hagglund, PhD, of the University of Missouri at Columbia, met with staff of Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), ranking member of a key Senate appropriation subcommittee, as well as staff of Sen. Christopher Bond (R-Mo.), an Appropriations Committee member. Patricia Cole, PhD, of Central Washington University, Deanna Yates, PhD, in San Antonio, and GPE grantees Janet Woodruff-Borden, PhD, of the University of Louisville, Hal Lewis, PhD, of the University of Colorado, and Michael Fellner, PhD, of the VA Black Hills Health Care System, also met with staff of Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) and Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), as well as Rep. Anne Northrup (R-Ky.), all appropriators. Doug Tynan, PhD, a current GPE grantee of the A.I. duPont Hospital for Children, met with staff of Rep. Michael Castle (R-Del.), chair of the Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Education Reform, to speak on behalf of APA's proposed amendments to the Higher Education Act. He spoke about the need for expanded mental and behavioral health services on college campuses.

During this year's fourth annual Education Leadership Conference, 45 APA members participated in advocacy training and made over 100 visits to their elected members of Congress to garner increased funding for the GPE program in fiscal year 2005. Spearheading the charge on Capitol Hill were leaders in the Federal Education Advocacy Coordinators Network: Sharon Berry, PhD, James Bray, PhD, Patricia Cole, PhD, Rodney Goodyear, PhD, John Klocek, PhD, Lee Nelson, PhD, Gilbert Newman, PhD, Laura Palmer, PhD, and Michael Roberts, PhD.

In addition, in January, 125 members of the National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology "made the march" to Washington to participate in advocacy training and visited with 145 members of Congress on behalf of several APA initiatives.

Further Reading

How to get involved

The APA Public Policy Office (PPO) encourages you to parlay your psychological expertise and status as a voter to advocate for sound federal policies regarding children, older adults, ethnic minorities and other underserved groups.

Please write to PPO for tips on how to interact with your legislators, or visit the PPO Web page.

Those interested in advocating for psychology education and training and willing to participate in grassroots activities as a campus training representative can find information on joining the Federal Education Advocacy Coordinators grassroots network.