Public Interest Government Relations Office update

Recent advocacy activities focus on social services for vulnerable children and families, child trauma and the prevention of child maltreatment deaths

The Public Interest Government Relations Office (PI-GRO) engages in federal advocacy on behalf of APA Public Interest Directorate priorities. This update highlights PI-GRO’s recent advocacy activities on three issues: social services for vulnerablechildren and families; child trauma; and prevention of child maltreatment deaths.

APA Opposes Elimination of the Social Services Block Grant Program

APA, along with a coalition of more than 70 diverse groups, is working to oppose elimination of the federal Social ServicesBlock Grant (SSBG). On Apr. 18, a majority of the House Ways and Means Committee voted to eliminate the SSBG. On Apr. 23, APA and its coalition partners sent a letter to members of Congress urging them not to cut this vital program at a time when states and localities face extreme budget pressures. The SSBG currently provides $1.7 billion in flexible funds to help states meet the needs of their most vulnerable individuals and families. States use SSBG funds for programs such as child care assistance, disabilities services, child abuse prevention, child protective services, adoption services, foster care, adult protective services and services for older adults. Congress created the SSBG in 1981 by consolidating several smaller programs to save costs. The SSBG received bipartisan support in Congress in past decades, but since its inception has lostmore than three quarters of its value through budget cuts, funding freezes, and inflation. APA and its coalition partners will continue to advocate for SSBG funding.

APA Member Provides Crucial Expertise for National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day

APA member Tony Mannarino, PhD, addressed a May 9 congressional briefing in recognition of National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day (NCMHAD), and spoke about the impact of child trauma. His remarks focused on the work he and his colleagues have done in the development and dissemination of Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, the most widely used and effective evidence-based treatment for children affected by trauma, and the contributions of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. This year’s NCMHAD events, sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, focused on the message that, with the help of caring adults, trauma-informed child-serving systems, and evidence-based practices, young people can recover following traumatic experiences. 

APA Supports Legislation to Prevent Child Maltreatment Fatalities

APA, in collaboration with the National Coalition to End Child Abuse Deaths, is advocating for passage of the Protect our Kids Act of 2011. This bill, introduced by Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), would establish a commission to develop a national strategy and recommendations for reducing child fatalities resulting from abuse and neglect. According to a 2011 report by the Government Accountability Office, child deaths from maltreatment in the U.S. are underreported, and systems to track and prevent child maltreatment fatalities should be strengthened. The national commission established by the Protect our Kids Act would apply expertise from fields including psychology and childdevelopment to address this national challenge.

Get Involved

Would you like to receive updates on federal policy issues and participate in coordinated outreach to your federal legislators? If so, please sign up for the APA Public Policy Advocacy Network. If you have questions or would like more information about APA’s federal policy activities related to children, youth, and families, please contact Kerry Bolger, PhD, Senior Legislative & Federal Affairs Officer in APA’s Public Interest Government Relations Office.