January 29, 2021
Our latest publication, COVID Response Project: Lessons Learned from State Adaptations and Federal Flexibilities, documents the real-time impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on state human services agencies and captures state perspectives on lessons learned to guide future federal policymaking and state implementation. The project was completed with the support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Office of Regional Operations.
Legislative & Regulatory Updates
Revitalize and Expand SNAP Education and Training (RESET) For America’s Future Act

On January 25, Reps. Abigail Spanberger and Fred Upton introduced H.R. 487, bipartisan legislation to amend the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 to expand Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Employment & Training (E&T). This bill would allocate an additional $100 million to SNAP E&T and substantially increase federal reimbursement to waive the required state/local match for programs and services that are proven, rigorously evaluated for the first time, or include a contract that ties at least 20 percent of funds to positive outcomes, such as improved future earnings. The bill would also allow participants to continue E&T services for up to six months, regardless of other SNAP program eligibility. 

H.R. 447 The National Apprenticeship Act

On January 25, Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott introduced a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the National Apprenticeship Act. The bill was referred to the Committee on Education and Labor, and to the Committee on the Judiciary.

Relaunching America’s Workforce Act

On January 28, Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, and Reps. Andy Levin and Suzanne Bonamici, reintroduced the Relaunching America’s Workforce Act, a bill authorizing $15 billion to help dislocated workers develop skills and successfully re-enter the workforce as the economy recovers from the deepest decline since the Great Depression. 

HHS Secretary Submits Letter on Public Health Emergency Declaration

Secretary Cochran published a letter to governors stating that the public health emergency declaration will likely stay in place for all of 2021, and when it is decided to end the declaration, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will provide a 60 day notice. This advance notice will also serve to support states as they transition out of the 6.2 percentage point increase in the Medicaid Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP).

Committee Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Strengthen Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse

On Tuesday, the House Committee on Education and Labor introduced the Stronger Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (Stronger CAPTA) (H.R. 485) in response to rising rates of child maltreatment over the past decade. The bipartisan bill will authorize $540 million in funding to expand and strengthen networks of prevention services and promote new research and implementation of evidence-based practices to improve the quality of child protective services. The funds will also provide support for child protective services facing challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Child and Family Well-Being
New Grant Opportunity: Foster Youth to Independence (FYI) Competitive

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published a Notice of Funding Availability for the FYI Initiative which makes Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) assistance available to Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) in partnership with Public Child Welfare Agencies (PCWAs). PHAs that have an existing Annual Contributions Contract (ACC) with HUD for HCVs are eligible to apply for funding under this announcement. Under FYI Competitive, PHAs provide housing assistance on behalf of: Youth at least 18 years and not more than 24 years of age (have not yet reached their 25th birthday) who left foster care, or will leave foster care within 90 days and are homeless, or are at risk of becoming homeless at age 16 or older. The deadline to apply is March 22.

Overview of P.L. 116-260 Child Welfare Provisions

The Children’s Bureau has released basic information and guidance on the new law enacted under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, enacted December 27, 2020. The law provides continued flexibility and assistance for specified child welfare programs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional guidance will be released in the coming weeks.

Utilizing Title IV-E Funding to Support High Quality Legal Representation for Children and Youth Who Are in Foster Care, Candidates for Foster Care and Their Parents

The Children’s Bureau has released a new Informational Memorandum (IM) urging state and tribal IV-E agencies, courts, administrative offices of the courts, and Court Improvement Programs to work together to ensure high quality legal representation for parents, children and youth, and child welfare agencies at all stages of child welfare proceedings, and to provide the maximum allowable title IV-E administrative reimbursement for children and parents involved in title IV-E foster care legal proceedings. The IM includes new research and strategies for promoting high quality legal representation.

Employment and Economic Well-Being
Promising Practices Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG)

The Office of Family Assistance (OFA) released information on promising practices within the Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG). Highlighted sites include South Carolina Department of Social Services, Volunteers of America Texas, and Workforce Development Board SDA-83 (Louisiana). At least two of the sites prioritize services for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients.

FNS Posts 2020 Program Data for SNAP, WIC, Child Nutrition

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) posted program data for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and Child Nutrition programs including the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). This program data is posted after a delay last year.

FNS Announces Increase in P-EBT Benefits and Exploration of Additional SNAP Increases

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) announced that an approximately 15% increase would be added to Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) benefits to provide additional nutrition assistance to children and families who are attending school virtually due to the public health emergency. FNS also announced that they would be exploring their authority to increase other benefits for people using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) such as through Emergency Allotments, which previously did not increase any benefit for those with the lowest incomes. Additionally, in accordance with the 2018 Farm Bill, the USDA will reassess the value of the Thrifty Food Plan which SNAP benefits are currently based on. States are still awaiting revised P-EBT guidance and guidance for benefits for young children in child care from FNS.

APHSA Partner Updates
RFP - Coordinating SNAP & Nutrition Supports
APHSA is partnering with Share Our Strength to offer a new grant opportunity for state SNAP agencies to increase coordination between their SNAP program and other nutrition supports to reduce childhood hunger. The demonstration project will fund 3-5 states and APHSA will serve as the grant administrator to support cohort learning. The RFP deadline has been extended to February 12.
Take a News Break and Help Your Field!

It’s been an intense few week of following the news of both the election and the pandemic. We’re hoping, though, that you might be ready to pivot to a task that will make a positive contribution to your field. Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago needs your input to improve researcher-practitioner communication in child, youth and family services.  Take a break from the news and take a survey. 

Chapin Hall wants to know how researchers can best get actionable findings to those of you who work in child, youth and family services. They want your opinions about the relevance of research for what you do, your preferred modes of communication and content organization, and how you get information and continuing education now. They will share results with all those who take part so that you can see how your experience aligns with others in your field. If you have questions or concerns or any problems with the survey link, please contact Dr. Martha Van Haitsma at the University of Chicago Survey Lab at [email protected].
Upcoming Webinars & Virtual Events
Webinar - Results from a Formative Evaluation of Two Employment Programs for Young People Transitioning Out of Foster Care

Join the Urban Institute to discuss the results of a formative evaluation of two employment programs: iFoster Jobs in Los Angeles and Riverside, California, and MY TIME in Chicago. The conversation will focus on how iFoster Jobs and MY TIME support participants as they seek to attain and succeed in employment and how to build more evidence on what works.

Tuesday, February 2, 1:00 PM EST
APHSA Third Thursday 360: Virtual Mini-Series of Health and Human Services Collective Learning

Join us on the Third Thursday of each month for our exciting new virtual mini-series! Slated to take place through June 2021, each event will offer rich content equivalent to a day spent at a traditional conference with an array of sessions and networking opportunities. ​Bringing policy, practice, and program together on one platform, this unique series will showcase best practices and lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and will also zoom in on agency management in child welfare, SNAP, TANF, IT, performance management, and child care.

Thursday, February 18, 12:30-5:15 PM EST

Certificates of attendance will be provided for the pursuit of continuing education (CE) credits. Pay once for entire series! Group discount available for five or more registrants. Learn more!
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.