November 8, 2019
The House and Senate are in session and below are the latest updates we are following around Washington.
In addition, Veteran's Day is on Monday and we want to extend a message of gratitude to all of our veterans for their service to America.
Legislative Updates
Senate Appropriations Approves First Four Appropriations Bills in “Minibus”; Another Continuing Resolution Likely for HHS and Other Agencies
The Senate took a first step towards avoiding a government shutdown by funding FY 2020 appropriations for four of twelve appropriations bills, including the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The remaining eight bills, which include funding for the Department of Health and Human Services, remain in limbo as Congressional leaders seek a compromise ahead of the November 21 st expiration of the Continuing Resolution that is funding government agencies currently. Another Continuing Resolution appears likely, with funding expected to be extended through the end of the calendar year.
Family First Transition Bill Introduced in Both House and Senate
The Family First Transition Act was i ntroduced this week, to help state and local child welfare agencies with implementation of the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA). The Family First Transition Act provides transition funding to help all states with start-up costs for Family First implementation, as well as additional funding for states with expiring waivers in 2019. The bill also provides a gradual phase-in of the 50% well-supported spending requirement within the Title IV-E Clearinghouse.  

Child and Family Well-Being
New Proposed Rule will Make it Harder for LGBT Couples to Adopt
The Administration late last week released plans to amend an Obama-era rule that barred adoption agencies and foster care providers that receive federal funds from discriminating based on sexual orientation. The Department of Health and Human Services rationale for amending the rule cites legal and regulatory compliance concerns with the previous rule, while LGBT rights groups consider HHS’ proposed change to the rule discriminatory with wide-ranging effects throughout human services. The American Civil Liberties Union has already promised to challenge the proposed rule in the court system. As of late Thursday, the proposed rule had not been published in the Federal Register. Once published, there will be a 30-day public comments window before the rule can be finalized.

ACF Approves Nation’s First Prevention Plan
As implementation of the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) begins, Children’s Bureau approved the District of Columbia’s prevention services plan. The plan details how the District of Columbia will roll out prevention services as described in FFPSA. DC was the first agency to submit a plan for approval. Jerry Milner, Associate Commissioner of the Children’s Bureau, commented: “The plan represents a thoughtful reconceptualization of the way public child welfare agencies serve children and families, and we in the federal government look forward to working closely with the District to implement this landmark plan.”

HHS/ACF Seeking Feedback on Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood Program Performance Measure Improvements
The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is seeking public input on the performance measures data system used to support the Fatherhood and Marriage Local Evaluation and Cross-Site Project.  Data from the initiative is used to inform services to fathers designed to promote economic stability, foster responsible parenting, and promote healthy marriages and relationships.  Stakeholders interested in providing input should submit comments by December 6.
CMS Increases Public Access to Medicaid and CHIP Data
On Thursday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released for the first time its research-ready Transformed Medicaid Statistical Information System (T-MSIS) data, a robust and evolving collection of Medicaid and CHIP data files. These data provide key information, including information on utilization and spending under Medicaid managed care, and are needed to enable research and analysis to improve quality of care, assess beneficiary care costs and enrollment, and improve program integrity.
Call for Nominations: ACF Human Centered Design for Human Services Project
The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is soliciting invitations from ACF program offices, state- or county-administered human services programs, and local ACF grantees for participation in a pilot study under the Human Centered Design for Human Services (HCD4HS) project. Purposes of the project are to: define human-centered design in the context of delivery of human services; identify programs that are currently implementing or have recently implemented human-centered design approaches in human services programs; and describe the current state of the field. The pilot study will help determine the feasibility of this approach in human services programs, the requirements for implementation, the evaluability, sustainability, and key outcomes of interest to ACF programs. Nominations are due by December 5.
HUD Awards $1.5 Million in Grants to Combat Former Foster Youth Homelessness
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has awarded $1.5 million to several housing authorities to assist youth aging out of foster care that are at risk of experiencing homelessness. The grants are funded through the Foster Youth to Independence (FYI) program. This funding is specifically designated for housing vouchers to local public housing authorities to prevent or end homelessness among youth under the age of 25 who are or have recently left the foster care system. In addition to the housing vouchers, FYI also requires that support services be provided to encourage independent living skills.

Factsheet Released on Estimates of Childcare Eligibility and Receipt for FY 2016
The Office of the Assistant Secretary of Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) within the Department of Health and Human Services, released their annual fact sheet regarding the eligibility and program delivery of childcare subsidies in fiscal year 2016. The report found that in total, federal and state governments spent 9.9 billion on childcare subsidies, and an estimated 2 million children received those grants monthly. ASPE also found that there was a slight uptick in the number of children eligible, highlighting more generous rules and regulations in 2016 than in 2015, that allowed for 300,000 more children to be eligible. Families with younger children (age 6 and under) were also more likely to receive a subsidy, the report found.

DC Medicaid Demonstration for SMI/SED
On Wednesday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the approval of a first-of-its-kind Medicaid demonstration project that broadens treatment services available to Medicaid beneficiaries living in the District of Columbia diagnosed with serious mental illness (SMI) and/or serious emotional disturbance (SED). At the same time, CMS is approving the District’s request to begin providing new services for its beneficiaries diagnosed with substance use disorder (SUD). 

Employment and Economic Well-Being
Congressional Research Service Releases Updated Overview of SNAP Categorical Eligibility
The Congressional Research Service has released an updated report on current and historical practices related to SNAP Categorical Eligibility. The report comes in the midst of a pending USDA proposed rule to restrict the use of broad-based categorical eligibility by states that is expected to reduce SNAP caseloads and increase administrative costs for states.
USDA Requests Comment on Replacement of SNAP Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Cards
USDA requests comment on information collection activities pertaining to replacement of SNAP EBT cards. Under current regulations, States have the option to either deny a request for replacement of a SNAP EBT card until the household makes contact with the Agency if the request is deemed excessive, or send notices to households when they request four cards within a 12-month period. USDA seeks comments on the proposed collection of information, time burden estimates, ways to enhance the quality of information collected, and strategies for minimizing time burden.  Written comments must be received on or before January 6, 2020.
ETA Grant Opportunity
The Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) is offering a grant opportunity for up to 10 organizations to help bring attention to and address the opioid crisis. These grants intend to allow State workforce agencies (through Participating Partnerships led by local workforce development boards), outlying areas, or Tribal organizations to creatively align and deliver career, training, and supportive services that will best serve workers in their local areas impacted by the crisis.  The closing date for receipt of applications under this announcement is January 9, 2020.

Pending Resolution of Federal Lawsuit, FSSA Will Temporarily Suspend Gateway to Work Reporting Requirements
On October 31 st , the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) announced that due to a pending federal lawsuit, it will temporarily suspend its Medicaid Gateway to Work requirement. Indiana’s Medicaid members will still have a Gateway to Work status of “exempt,” “reporting met” or “reporting,” and be referred to opportunities to work, learn and serve in their communities. However, no benefit suspensions will be considered until after Rose v. Azar is resolved. Before the program is reinitiated, participating members would receive substantial advance notice regarding the timeline.

Upcoming Events
APHSA Webinar: Data Sharing in Human Services to End Homelessness Challenges and Solutions
Housing is a key factor for anyone to live healthy and there are a number of solutions that bring human services and housing data together to help all of us get there. Join us along with the Corporation for Supportive Housing to learn about best practices and examples from the field that bring these data together to help families reach their potential.

Thursday, November 14, 3:00-4:00 PM EST
APHSA Webinar: A Human-Centered Approach to Online Benefits Applications
Code for America will present on their recent analysis of every online benefits application for Medicaid, SNAP, TANF, WIC, and LIHEAP, providing a view of human services applications from a client perspective. Join us to discuss this analysis; we will also hear from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on how they already refined their application experience to meet rising expectations and changing needs throughout the state.

Thursday November 21, 2:00-3:00 PM EST
APHSA Career Center - Post Your Open Positions Today

APHSA serves as a clearinghouse for job opportunities throughout the health and human services (H/HS) field. Employers reach a wide audience of candidates looking for careers in H/HS and job seekers will find a bevy of opportunities throughout the country.