Public Policy Update

The year 2001 will be remembered as a good one for psychology, with the expected infusion of federal funding to support such initiatives as a newly created psychology graduate education and training program, a substantial budget increase for the National Science Foundation and expanded school-based mental health services and youth violence prevention programs--efforts that could not have been achieved without APA members' advocacy on Capitol Hill.

Below are highlights of some of these major federal initiatives.

(Next month, we will highlight work that APA's Public Policy Office and members are involved in to address the aftermath of the terrorist attacks--a top congressional priority as this issue of the Monitor went to press.)

Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) program launched

In collaboration with the Public Policy Office, APA member Herbert Goldstein, PhD, gained $2 million for the first federally supported psychology graduate education and training program. Goldstein, a private practitioner from St. Petersburg, Fla., was actively involved in grassroots efforts with his congressman, Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.), chair of the House Appropriations Committee. Psychologist Bob Devies, PhD, a private practitioner in Canton, Ohio, bolstered that effort by reaching out to his representative, House Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Ralph Regula (R-Ohio).

This program will be housed in the Bureau of Health Professions of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. All APA-accredited psychology graduate programs will be eligible to apply for grants for student support, internships, curricula development and other related aspects of graduate study. The bureau will award grants for graduate study with an emphasis in an area of national need such as rural health, the elderly or children.

Opening doors for psychology

Two of the Safety Net Programs are the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), which provides scholarships and loan repayment to health professionals in exchange for service in shortage areas, and the Community Health Centers (CHC) Program, which establishes health-care facilities in underserved areas. Although action on the Health Care Safety Net legislation, which focused attention on the NHSC and the CHC, will be postponed until later this year, psychology gained new opportunities in both programs in the Senate and House bills. Kris Hagglund, PhD, championed this initiative on behalf of Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who serves on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and the mental and behavioral health community. Hagglund is a faculty member at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and worked for Harkin during his term as a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow. Dennis Freeman, PhD, chief executive officer for the Cherokee Health Systems in Tennessee, furthered this effort by testifying on March 22 at a hearing before the Public Health Subcommittee of the Senate HELP Committee about the critical need to increase the number of psychologists participating in NHSC and CHC.

Psychologists were added to the list of primary health-care providers in the proposed legislation and explicitly made eligible for the Scholarship and Loan Repayment Programs. The legislation also mandates that the secretary determine the need for psychological services in underserved communities nation-wide. Within the CHC, mental and behavioral health services were added for the first time and further, in the report that accompanies the Senate bill, Congress mandated that all start-up CHCs provide mental health services. In addition, a technical amendment was included to change the term "clinical psychologist" to "health service psychologist" to be consistent with APA policy.

Education legislation looks promising for psychologists and psychology

Through a strong, coordinated cross-directorate effort, the Public Policy Office secured a number of favorable changes in legislation to extend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). APA successfully advocated for the inclusion (in both the House and Senate reauthorization bills) of the Javits Gifted and Talented Education program, which provides critical funding for national leadership and best-practice models in the area of gifted and talented education, as well as for an expanded Gifted and Talented program, which, when implemented and funded, will provide support to states for innovative programs designed to meet the needs of their gifted and talented students.

In addition, APA worked with a coalition of organizations advocating for the inclusion of the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Program in both the House and Senate reauthorization bills. This program was at risk of not being included in the new ESEA legislation, potentially resulting in the program's termination. Of particular interest to psychologists, the reauthorization bill would expand the existing grant program by enabling school districts to serve elementary and secondary schools, and to hire school and other qualified psychologists.

APA also supported efforts to ensure the continuation and independence of the Safe and Drug Free Schools Program and the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program (both of which allow for counseling services), by retaining separate funding streams for these vital programs.

As the Monitor went to press, Senate and House negotiators were hopeful that the conference would wrap up by the close of the first session of the 107th Congress.

Applying psychology to enhance child development and education

APA's Public Policy Office and members worked much of the year to educate congressional staff on the important role psychology plays in education and education reform efforts:

  • APA President Philip G. Zimbardo, PhD, was among those who took to the "Hill" to enlighten House and Senate staff about the unique ways psychology can inform the way we think about teaching and learning.

  • Norma Hart, PhD, a former school psychologist in New York City, was also instrumental in opening a dialogue with education associations about a dedicated funding stream for each program.

  • As part of a legislative initiative to inform Capitol Hill about the benefits and potential pitfalls of high-stakes testing, Laurie Wise, PhD, of the Human Resources Research Organization, and Pat DeVito, PhD, of the National Research Council, briefed Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) at his request in March. Two weeks later, DeVito and Eva Baker, PhD, of the University of California, Los Angeles, testified at a congressional briefing on high-stakes testing in education chaired by Scott.

  • In June, Mark Weist, PhD, of the University of Maryland, Baltimore, testified about the critical need for expanded school mental health services at an APA co-sponsored congressional briefing on "School health in the new millennium: focus on mental health for children and adolescents." U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher, MD, PhD, was among the other presenters.

  • To educate Congress about effective directions in early childhood education, Wade Horn, PhD, of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Deborah Phillips, PhD, of Georgetown University, testified on July 31 before a House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Education Reform on "The dawn of learning: What's working in early childhood education."

Speaking out for growing up

On May 16, Robert Pianta, PhD, of the University of Virginia, was among the presenters who joined the director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Duane Alexander, MD, to describe the results of a longitudinal study that examined the relationship between day care and subsequent child development. The event was sponsored by APA, along with the Society for Research in Child Development and the Congressional Child Care Caucus.

Addressing Youth Violence and Child Abuse

In a strong showing for psychology, all four witnesses at an April 24 House briefing on youth violence were psychologists. Those who testified about "Understand-ing violence from a developmental perspective" were Raymond Lorion, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania, Jennifer Woolard, PhD, of the University of Florida, Kate Keenan, PhD, of the University of Chicago, and Edward Mulvey, PhD, of the University of Pitts-burgh School of Medicine. On Oct. 17, Joann Grayson, PhD, of James Madison University, testified before the House Sub-committee on Select Education in support of the reauthorization of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act.

Voting for science

After systemic problems in voting were uncovered after the 2000 election, PPO partnered with the American Political Science Association and the Consortium of Social Science Associations to sponsor a research-based briefing on Capitol Hill in support of the "Democracy" theme of the Decade of Behavior. The briefing, entitled "The mechanics of election reform: from registration to results," was held March 16 and featured a compelling presentation by David Woods, PhD, of Ohio State University, on "Human factors and the technology of voting." Woods was invited back on March 24, to testify before the Committee on House Administration.

Paving the way for visiting scientists in federal mental health research

John Cacioppo, PhD, of the University of Chicago, Walter Mischel, PhD, of Columbia University, and Peter Salovey, PhD, of Yale University, met with Steven Hyman, MD, director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) on June 7 to establish a visiting scientist program, whereby senior scientists would visit and enrich the behavioral research conducted at the NIMH Intramural Research Program.

Science on the offense for defense and basic research

On March 21, Barbara Landau, PhD, of Johns Hopkins University, testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs, among other agencies. Landau argued for the vital role of basic research in addressing scientific, technological, educational and biomedical challenges.

APA secured two slots to describe the importance of behavioral research within the Department of Defense, as increasingly complex demands confront men and women serving within our military. On March 28, Deborah Boehm-Davis, PhD, of George Mason University, testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, and on May 23, Deirdre Knapp, PhD, of the Human Resources Research Organization, testified before the corresponding committee in the Senate. Boehm-Davis and Knapp each described how proposed budget cuts at the Army Research Institute, the Office of Naval Research and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research would compromise military readiness.

Scientists as coalition partners

On June 5, Gerald Krueger, PhD, of Wexford Group International, represented APA during a lobby day on Capitol Hill as part of the Coalition for National Security Research. Krueger's "land warrior" research focuses on new technology that integrates global positioning systems, heads-up displays and a variety of other technologies to improve soldiers' situational awareness. On June 13, Sandra Graham, PhD, of UCLA, represented APA in the annual research exhibition on Capitol Hill sponsored by the Coalition for National Science Funding. Graham presented her research on bullying, highlighting her new longitudinal study of peer victimization during the middle-school years.

Reducing health disparities

The Public Policy Office was actively involved in arranging for APA members to be presenters at various programs sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). On April 5-6, Congresswoman Donna Christian-Christensen (D-V.I.) sponsored the CBC's Spring Health Braintrust on minority health disparities. APA's 2000-01 William Bailey AIDS Policy Congressional Fellow, Leonard Bates, PhD, who served as her health adviser, helped to organize the conference. Members who presented on the expert panels included: Adrienne Stith, PhD, of the Institute of Medicine; Gayle Porter, PsyD, of the American Institutes of Research; Harriet McCombs, PhD, of the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration; Kim Nickerson, PhD, from APA and the NIH Advisory Council on the Human Genome; and Ly Nguyen, PhD, then with the office of Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.).

On Sept. 24, Rhonda Boyd, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania, discussed the impact of postpartum depression as a participant in the CBC's 31st Annual Legislative Conference.

Enhancing end-of-life care

Psychologists Barry Rosenfeld, PhD, of Fordham University, and James Werth Jr., PhD, of the University of Akron, addressed psychological research and training issues, respectively, pertaining to end-of-life care at a July 18 congressional briefing jointly sponsored by APA and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues on "Promoting quality care near the end of life: what policy-makers need to know."