Education Advocacy Initiatives & Activities:
Board of Educational Affairs March 2011 Update

Authorizing and Appropriations

APA's Education Government Relations Office seeks to increase federal support for psychology education and training and to promote the application of psychology to education and training.

Health Care Reform Legislation

Education GRO staff succeeded in advancing psychology workforce development provisions in both the Senate and House healthcare reform bills. The final historic passage of the legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, contained the Senate provisions on workforce development that includes the authorization of appropriations of $10 million for training in doctoral, postdoctoral, internship and residency in psychology. Further information is available from the APA.

Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) Program

MAJOR GAIN:  Due to APA Advocacy and Grassroots efforts, the GPE Program was included in the Omnibus bill for FY 2011 at our full funding request of $7 million. Unfortunately, the Omnibus bill failed, leaving all federal programs (including GPE) funded at their current levels. Once again the GPE Program was included in the President’s Budget but this time there was a request to double the number of grants (from 20 to 40). In addition, the GPE Program was included in the House FY 2011 Continuing Resolution (CR), H.R.1, at FY 08 level of $2 million even though hundreds of federal programs were proposed for elimination or significant reductions totaling $61 billion dollars. Also the Senate FY 2011 CR includes the GPE Program but at flat funding of $3 million. All members of the House and Senate Labor-Health & Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee will be visited by APA staff and members. Over 30 APA members will come in over a 3 month period (many for the first time) and will make over 70 visits (in total). Further information is available from the APA.

Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act Reauthorization (SAMHSA Campus Mental Health Services)

Education GRO staff worked closely with the offices of Senators Chris Dodd, Jack Reed and Dick Durbin on the introduction of the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act Reauthorization (S. 4043) at the close of the 111th Congress. This legislation is home to the Campus Suicide Prevention program, administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Education GRO has long championed this program and played a key role in its creation. S. 4043 will be reintroduced in the 112th Congress and Education GRO will continue to work closely with Senator Jack Reed’s office in the introduction and promotion of the legislation this year. Rep. Danny Davis will be the lead in the U.S. House of Representatives. The legislation includes provisions that would allow for direct services to students, as well as a provision allowing for the hiring of appropriately trained staff to work in those centers on campus that provide mental and behavioral health services. These are additions to the current program and have been promoted by Education GRO in response to national survey data that note the need for more service providers on campuses. In addition, the legislation includes important changes promoted by Senator Durbin and Rep. Schakowsky, and strongly supported by APA, that call for a National Public Awareness Campaign on mental health and substance use disorders on college campuses, as well as the creation of an interagency working group on college mental health.

Elementary & Secondary Education Act (ESEA)

Education GRO staff spearheaded the development of APA’s recommendations for the improvement of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). During the 111th Congress, APA made a significant number of important Hill visits. The 112th Congress has ushered in a change in leadership on the House side and with it, a likely slowing down of the reauthorization process in that body.  Education GRO will work in cooperation with PI, Science and Practice to promote psychology’s changes to ESEA and continue to meet with key staff and Committees in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. APA’s recommendations cover topics related to teacher professional development, teaching skills, violence directed towards teachers, school climate and safe schools, bullying, expanded school mental health, gifted and talented education, English language acquisition, to name a few.  Further information is available from the APA.

Education GRO staff worked in partnership with PI GRO to prepare briefing materials for APA CEO, Norman Anderson, PhD on the topic of bullying in anticipation of his participation in the White House Summit on Bullying Prevention, held on March 10th. Attended by 150 individuals with a background or connection to the issue as well as leaders from the Administration including the President and the First Lady, psychology was well represented by APA member experts in bullying prevention and Dr. Anderson who represented the broad perspective of what psychology has to contribute to this important subject.

Federal Agency Related Initiatives

Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) Bureau of Health Professions (BHPr)

Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) Program Grants

As reported to BEA last fall, the Health Resources and Services Administration's Bureau of Health Professions (BHPr) awarded approximately $3 million in FY 2010-2013 funding to support 19 three-year and 1 one-year training grants through the GPE Program. Awarded to psychology programs/internships located at universities and medical institutions in 17 states across the country, current GPE grants are funding interdisciplinary training of psychologists while they provide supervised mental/behavioral health services to underserved rural and urban populations, including: underserved Hispanic, Korean, and Native American children and adults; children/adolescents infected with (or affected by) HIV/AIDS; multicultural populations near the U.S./Mexican border; and African American elderly and children.

There are approximately 900 universities, professional schools and hospitals nationwide eligible for a GPE grant. Since 2002, there have been 106 grants in 32 states, including the District of Columbia awarded for approximately $27 million.

National Health Service Corps

The National Health Services Corps received a $300 million dollar increase due to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, leaving the program’s total funding in the FY 2011 Continuing Resolution at $431 million, with a budget request of $418 million. This request includes $295 million in mandatory funding from the Affordable Care Act. As increasing field strength is one of the Administration’s Priority Goals, this budget will support a Field Strength of 10,683, funding 389 scholars and 2,971 loan repayers in FY 2012.

Scholarship Program: Education GRO staff has continued its efforts to include psychology students in the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Scholarship Program. The NHSC is exploring an expansion in the disciplines available for the scholarship and ED GRO has submitted documents urging that psychology be added as an included discipline. Currently, psychologists are only eligible for the NHSC Loan Repayment Program on a full time and part time basis. Dr. Cynthia Belar and GRO staff has been in continuous correspondence with NHSC officials to request inclusion in the scholarship program. As a result, NHSC officials have requested ED GRO to submit sample scholarship models for psychology students to consider when they revisit opening expanding the scholarship program later this year.

Loan Repayment Program: The National Health Services Corps has made a number of changes to the program in the last year. These include offering loan repayment for part-time practitioners and improvements in the application process. These improvements have doubled the field strength of the NHSC to 7,530 with retention rates at 76 percent.

Further information is available from the APA.

Substance Abuse/Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Education GRO staff, in collaboration with Public Interest GRO staff, have developed comprehensive recommendations for the reauthorization of SAMHSA. These recommendations include a focus on access for older adults, prevention and early intervention efforts in mental health for children and adolescents, mental health workforce training and data collection, to name as few, as well as the critical issues highlighted below.

SAMHSA Minority Fellowship Program (MFP)

Education GRO staff, in collaboration with the Public Interest GRO, have been participating in a number of Hill visits with the Mental Health Workforce Coalition to discuss preserving funding and an explicit authorization for the Minority Fellowship Program (MFP). The MFP was included in the FY 2012 SAMHSA budget justification as one of the premier workforce development programs funded by SAMHSA. Currently the program is flat funded at $ 4.897 million for FY 2011, awaiting the final funding amounts for FY 2012. Further information is available from the MFP.

SAMHSA Campus Mental Health Services

Education GRO staff are working closely with the offices of Senator Jack Reed and Rep. Danny Davis to develop a comprehensive reauthorization for the Garret Lee Smith Memorial Act legislation.  Education GRO hopes to see legislation introduced in the 112th Congress that incorporates elements of The Mental Health on Campus Improvement Act (S.682/HR1704 – 111th Congress), a proposal that would allow for the provision of direct services to post-secondary students in need of support, establish a targeted public education campaign focused on mental and behavioral health on college campuses as well as create a College Campus Task Force, made up of representatives from relevant federal agencies to discuss mental and behavioral health concerns on college and university campuses.

Education Advocacy Grassroots Activities

Federal Education Advocacy Grassroots Network

Education GRO staff and Federal Education Advocacy Coordinators (FEDACs) concluded 2010 with a very successful recruiting campaign for new Campus/Training Representatives for the FEDAC grassroots network, adding nearly 100 new members. Increasing the number of CTRs remains the #1 priority for FEDAC leaders. The hundreds of letters and phone calls made by these grassroots members, combined with hill visits by Education Leadership Conference members and other psychologists participating in Congressional Hill Visits with Members of key districts and states, are providing critical support for Education GRO legislative activities and successes.

Education and Public Interest GRO PsycAdvocates Day 2011 APA Convention Collaboration

With the APA convention to be held in Washington, DC, the Education and Public Interest GRO staff have been working together to create a very special advocacy training and hill visits opportunity during the 2011 APA Convention. Christopher Kush, President of Soapbox Consulting, has also been contracted to assist with this highly interactive and very unique workshop experience for psychologists and graduate students. CE credits will be offered. 

“The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport.”
Barbara Jordan