October 4, 2019
The House and Senate are on a two-week recess a time that This Week in Washington would normally be on break but we are coming to your inbox anyway, to provide you with important updates from around Washington.

While waiting for our full issues to return; check out The Catalyst , our blog highlighting the exchange of creative ideas and promising initiatives. Keep an eye out for more blog posts to come!
Child and Family Well-Being
White House Releases Updated Refugee Policies
Last week, the administration released an Executive Order regarding state and local consultation in the refugee resettlement process. The administration put a process into place that will formalize state and local governments’ authorization to resettle refugees in their communities, which exceeds the previous requirement for state and local consultation. The administration also significantly reduced the number of refugees admitted in fiscal year 2020 to 18,000. Of the 18,000, 4,000 are reserved for Iraqis, 5,000 for those fleeing religious persecution, and 1,500 for people arriving from the Northern Triangle counties, leaving 7,500 for all other cases. This will mark the third year that the refugee cap has been significantly decreased from the prior fiscal year.

ACF Seeks Public Input on Improving Access to Child Care
On Tuesday, HHS’s Administration for Children and Families (ACF) announced that it is seeking input from the public and interested stakeholders on strategies to improve access to high-quality, affordable child care in the U.S. The Request for Information seeks public input identifying emerging and innovative practices to improve access to high-quality child care, as well as identification of any regulatory and other policies that unnecessarily drive up the cost of care or limit the safe, nurturing child care choices available to parents. Submit comments by December 2.

$1.39 Million Awarded to Improve Child Support Collections Across Jurisdictions
This week, the Office of Child Support Enforcement announced that nine agencies will participate in the Intergovernmental Case Processing Innovation Demonstration grant. The grant is designed to test innovations to increase payments on intergovernmental cases and improve case processing procedures for parents. Seven state and two tribal support agencies received demonstration grants, and will develop and test changes that are likely to increase payments on intergovernmental cases and will have implement procedures to increase efficiency and customer service. Grant funds can also be used to enhance technical capabilities and address staffing issues.

Employment and Economic Well-Being
FNS Proposes Rule to Revise SNAP Standard Utility Allowance Calculation
On Tuesday, October 1, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) announced via press release that it would be releasing a proposed rule to revise the way utility costs are factored in when states calculate a household’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
The proposed rule would standardize the methodology for calculating Standard Utility Allowances (SUAs). The new methodology would set the largest standard, the Heating and Cooling Standard Utility Allowance (HCSUA), at the 80th percentile of low-income households' utility costs in the State. Standard allowances for other utility costs would subsequently be capped at a percentage of the HCSUA with the exception of an updated telecommunications SUA that would be a standard amount set nationally. These figures would continue to be updated annually and reflective of utility costs in each State.
The full proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on Wednesday, October 3. Comments must be received on or before December 2.

FNS Proposes Information Collection on SNAP and Work
On Monday, September 30, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) published in the Federal Register a proposed information collection activity on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Work. According to FNS, the Survey of SNAP and Work, using states’ SNAP administrative data, will provide FNS with a better understanding of current and past workforce participation characteristics among non-disabled adult SNAP participants. The survey of current SNAP participants ages 18 to 69 will provide information on employment status, length of workforce detachment, types of jobs held, education and training, and social, physical, and environmental barriers to work, with estimates at the national and state-levels. Written comments must be received on or before November 29.

California Federal Judge Considering Injunction in Case Against “Public Charge” Rule
As we have reported previously, the Department of Homeland Security released a rule that expands the list of health and social programs and factors that may be considered by the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Service (USCIS) when determining whether some immigrants seeking entry to the Unites States or an adjustment of status are likely to become “public charges.” This rule goes into effect October 15th. Now, challengers are seeking a nationwide preliminary injunction.
A coalition of states, counties and organizations told a California federal judge, who is presiding over three lawsuits challenging the policy, that the rule would lead to millions of people across the country withdrawing from public health care programs and could trigger significant public health problems. The Judge stated that if she decides not to issue a nationwide injunction, she will consider a stipulated injunction for a more limited geographical area and asked the parties to submit their input as to what that might look like.

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