Federal policy activities addressing issues important to children, youth and families

New PI-GRO staff member, Senate HELP on children's mental health treatment options, renewing focus on juvenile justice.

By Amalia Corby-Edwards

PI-GRO Welcomes New Staff Member

Amalia Corby-Edwards joined PI-GRO in February as a senior legislative and federal affairs officer. Amalia has a background in public health research and policy analysis. Prior to joining APA, she was a health policy analyst at the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the non-partisan research and analysis division of the Library of Congress, which provides expert analysis to members of Congress and staff. Before joining CRS, Amalia worked at the Department of the Treasury, where she administered studies of taxpayer behavior. Her past experience also includes coordinating with local law enforcement, coroners and medical examiners in the state of Wisconsin to for the pilot phase of the National Violent Death Reporting System, and as a clinical research coordinator at BloodCenter of Wisconsin. She completed her MS in epidemiology at the Medical College of Wisconsin, and holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Wisconsin.

Testimony for Senate HELP on Children’s Mental Health Treatment Options

PI-GRO, in collaboration with the APA's Children, Youth and Families Office and Education GRO, submitted testimony (PDF, 284KB) to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee for their Feb. 25 hearing on mental health treatment options and trends for children and adolescents. The testimony described the needs of low-income children and adolescents; called for federal action to ensure that all children and adolescents have access to evidence-based, culturally competent care; urged Congress to invest in programs that support the behavioral health workforce; and expressed APA's continued concern regarding the use of anti-psychotic medications as a substitute for behavioral health interventions, a concern shared by the committee.

Renewing Focus on Juvenile Justice 

APA recently signed on to coalition letters supporting reforms to federal juvenile justice policy. One urged a key Senate Republican to cosponsor the Youth PROMISE Act (S. 1307). This legislation seeks to create funding for community planning, implementation and evaluation of evidence-based and promising practices that prevent and intervene in youth violence and delinquency. The other letter urged members of the U.S. House to support the Prohibiting Detention of Youth Status Offenders Act (H.R. 4123). This bill would create a penalty for states that fail to eliminate the valid court order (VCO) exception for status offenders — youth who commit acts that amount to crimes only because of their status as a minor (e.g., possession of tobacco or alcohol, truancy violations, running away). 

Continuing Efforts Around Psychotropic Medications

APA joined other national organizations in urging U.S. House and Senate leadership to support federal efforts to reduce the use of psychotropic medications among foster youth. Recent data for those using Medicaid show foster care youth prescribed psychotropic medications at higher rates and greater dosage than their non-foster care peers. The president’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year asks Congress to provide $100 million to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and $50 million to Administration on Children and Families to begin addressing the problem. The joint effort aims to build capacity to provide these young people with evidence-based mental health screening, assessment and psychosocial interventions. 

APA’s longstanding priority on these issues stem from the 2006 Report of the Working Group on Psychotropic Medications for Children and Adolescents, as well as the association’s numerous policies on children’s mental health

Support for CCDBG Reauthorization

APA joined national partners in supporting reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). The Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 (S. 1086) would reauthorize the program and make changes to better protect the health and safety of children in child care settings across America. More information on this bill is available on the APA website. S. 1086 passed the Senate on March 13, 2014, and awaits further action in the House. APA will continue to work with APA members and experts, key partners and coalitions, to advocate for the successful enactment of this important piece of legislation.

Advocacy for Perinatal Depression Screening

On March 19, 2014, PI-GRO held an advocacy day for participants in the Leadership Institute for Women in Psychology. Participants led advocacy visits to more than 40 congressional offices to discuss paycheck fairness and perinatal depression screening. APA also submitted comments in April to a government-led review of depression screening guidelines; in our comments, we encouraged reviewers to design their research to allow adequate consideration of perinatal depression screening.

FY2015 Appropriations

The FY2015 appropriations cycle is underway. APA joined with a number of national partners to support funding for programs that affect children, youth and families, including: the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act; Head Start and Early Head Start, the Child Care and Development Block Grant; the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA); and 21st Century Community Learning Centers. PI also submitted report language supporting appropriations for postpartum depression screening. 

National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week is May 4-10

Please join PI-GRO in celebrating National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week. Our goal for this week is to raise awareness of APA activities that support child and adolescent mental health. Throughout the week, PI-GRO will reach out to congressional offices to showcase our work in this area. We are also developing tweets that APA members can use to raise awareness and advocate for children’s mental health. Please subscribe to our blog and follow us on Twitter (@AmaliaatAPA; @DrGwenPKeita) for updates. See the Director’s Notes for more information about APA’s related activities.  

Re-launch of APA Grassroots Advocacy Tool

PI-GRO, in collaboration with the Education and Science government relations offices, recently re-launched its grassroots advocacy network. Please consider signing-up to receive alerts from the brand new Federal Advocacy Network. If you join, you will receive emails every few weeks asking you to take action on issues of critical importance to psychologists and the people they serve.