Letter to the House appropriations Labor-HHS subcommittee on priorities for funding of programs under HHS jurisdiction
May 21, 2007
As a follow-up to our letter of May 2 in which we outlined our priorities for education funding, we would like to highlight a few critical areas under the jurisdiction of the Department of Health and Human Services for your consideration as you mark up the FY08 Labor, HHS, Education Appropriations bill.
Provide Increased Funding for Head Start. Head Start is one of the most successful federal programs in history, providing high quality early childhood education, health, social services, and parental involvement programs to millions of young, low income children. Studies indicate that Head Start centers are maintaining high quality classrooms and teachers, and effectively preparing our nation's most at-risk children for school. Yet, despite its importance in helping children start school ready to learn, Head Start remains significantly underfunded. As a result, it only serves approximately 60 percent of eligible children. The reauthorization bill recently passed by the House of Representatives allows for increased Head Start funding.
Restore Funding for the Health Professions Training, including Centers of Excellence (COE) and Health Careers Opportunities Programs (HCOPs). HCOPs provide grants for minority and non-minority health professions institutions to encourage minority and economically and/or academically disadvantaged students to pursue a career in the health professions. For 30 years, HCOP programs have worked successfully at the K-12, college, and health profession school levels to enhance the academic skills of disadvantaged students and support them to prepare for, enter, and graduate from health profession schools. Without restored funding, we risk increasing a pending physician shortage, reducing the number of minorities serving in health professions, and increasing the number of medically underserved.
Reject Funding for Abstinence Only Programs. Public schools must be permitted to address the educational needs of all students, and should not be restrained by restrictions on free speech. Abstinence Only programs have been funded by the federal government for over 25 years, but no study in a professional peer-reviewed journal has found them to be broadly effective. In fact, a federally funded April 2007 report by Mathematica Policy Research Inc. found no evidence that such programs increased abstinence rates. In addition, 13 states have evaluated their abstinence-only-until-marriage programs and the results range from finding the programs ineffective to finding them harmful. Since the Community-Based Abstinence Education is not separately authorized, it is within the power of congressional appropriators to end it.
We thank you for your consideration of our views on these important issues.
Diane Shust, Director of Government Relations
Randall Moody, Manager of Federal Advocacy