Hearing Examines Consequences of Family Separation Policy
Senators Collins and Casey Introduce Geriatrics Workforce Improvement Act
Regulatory Rewrite Continues
HEA Talks Gather Momentum
CSWE Provides Feedback on the NICHD Strategic Plan
CSWE and the Society for Social Work and Research jointly nominated Dr. Sara Sanders, director of the School of Social Work at the University of Iowa and president of the Association for Gerontology Education in Social Work, to contribute as a member of the Decadal Survey of Behavioral and Social Science Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease-Related Dementias. Decadal surveys help research communities identify opportunities with the greatest potential for impact in pursuit of a specific goal. For this survey, which is being executed by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), the aim is to develop a research agenda focused on social and behavioral research sciences’ role in helping reduce the burden of dementias. NASEM also intends to obtain community input via town halls, social media, and special webcast workshops to help inform the final report to be released in spring 2021.
On February 7 the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing titled Examining the Failures of the Trump Administration’s Inhumane Family Separation Policy. This was the first hearing by the committee on this topic. The hearing announcement noted that the discussion would “review the Trump Administration’s inhumane Family Separation Policy that separated more than 2,500 children from their families.” Members of Congress and witnesses observed how the policy contributed to toxic stress, posttraumatic stress disorder, decline in educational achievement, and other consequences. The witnesses included Commander Jonathan White of the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Commander White, a clinical social worker and emergency manager, stated in his testimony, “I do not believe that separation of children from their parents is in the best interest of the child.” Committee Chair Diana DeGette (D-CO) observed in her opening testimony, “We know from decades of research that childhood trauma such as family separations can have serious and long-lasting consequences for children.” The Energy and Commerce Committee is likely to continue further oversight and investigation into the consequences of the family separation policy.
Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced the Geriatrics Workforce Improvement Act earlier this month. The bipartisan bill would reauthorize funding for two programs of importance to CSWE: the Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP) and the Geriatric Academic Career Awards (GACA), a previously funded program to develop clinician-educators prepared to train the future geriatrics workforce. Both programs are administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration. The act would establish funding for the GWEP and reestablish the GACA for 4 years. CSWE has advocated to support this bill through its membership in the Eldercare Workforce Alliance.
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) began its negotiated rulemaking last month to consider changes to accreditation and innovation-related regulations. The process involves a group of negotiators debating and amending regulations proposed by ED. If the group cannot reach consensus, then ED will determine the final regulations. The committees are tackling numerous issues, including the recognition of accrediting agencies, “regular and substantive interaction,” state authorization, how much of a program can be provided by a nonaccredited entity, and TEACH grants, among other issues. A motivating interest is ED’s desire to make it easier for accrediting agencies to enter the accreditation space. Other issues that have been raised and discussed during the initial meetings include competency-based education and the definitions of credit hour and distance education. Meetings will continue into March.
Talk of a Higher Education Act (HEA) reauthorization are heating up. Leaders of the relevant education committees have been publicly commenting on the potential of a reauthorization in 2019. The chair of the Senate committee overseeing education, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), has expressed a desire to introduce a bill this spring. In responding to HEA timelines, U.S. House Education and Labor Committee Chair Bobby Scott (D-VA) observed, "We have a long road ahead." Disagreements over student aid, campus safety, for-profit institutions, and other issues pose potential obstacles to finding a compromise between the Republican-controlled Senate and Democratic-controlled House.
The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) at the National Institutes of Health is updating its strategic plan and has solicited community feedback on the current framework. CSWE and the Society for Social Work and Research commented on several of the six research themes, expressing strong support for the emphasis on prevention research across the topics. Both associations highlighted the importance of considering social determinants of health to produce realistic recommendations to improve the health of all children, pregnant women, and individuals with disabilities. The recommendations also discussed how social work uses socioecological models and theory to inform research on epidemiological assessments and strongly encouraged NICHD to include these kinds of strategies to address the problems they seek to resolve.
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has announced it will provide funding for the new Opioid Workforce Expansion Program—Professionals and Paraprofessionals. According to HRSA, grants will be used “for community-based training on opioid use disorder for students preparing to become behavioral health professionals, peer support specialists and other types of behavioral health-related paraprofessionals.” Eligible to apply are “accredited institutions of higher education or accredited behavioral health professional training programs in social work, school social work, behavioral pediatrics, substance use disorder prevention and treatment, marriage and family therapy, occupational therapy, school counseling, or professional counseling.”