Academic journal article Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences

Shaping Public Policy

Academic journal article Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences

Shaping Public Policy

Article excerpt

The American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) is committed to ensuring that the profession addresses major public policy issues. This effort is directed through the Office of Public Policy that collects, analyzes, interprets, and distributes information about issues and concerns that affect children and families as well as the FCS profession. The Office monitors legislative developments and keeps the Association's governing bodies and membership apprised through various publications, alerts, and the Web site. In addition, the Office solicits input from FCS experts and provides this information to appropriate members of the Congressional delegation and their staff members to assist policymakers in making decisions consistent with the well-being of children and families. Work of the Office of Public Policy is guided by priorities for legislative and regulatory initiatives set by the AAFCS Board of Directors. The priority issues, which guide current public policy efforts, are child care, nutrition, and education.

Professional development of AAFCS members is another way to engage FCS professionals in policy analysis, formation, and implementation. The Gladys Branegan Chalkley Public Policy Visiting Scholar Award offered by AAFCS is designed to stimulate interest in public policy as it affects the Family and Consumer Sciences profession. Further, this award is designed to educate recipients in various aspects of policy-- making and provide avenues for interaction with members of the U.S. Congress and leaders of various Family and Consumer Sciences related organizations. This annual award is available to AAFCS members who have a strong interest in public policy and are willing to live in the metropolitan Washington, DC area for a 10-week period. It provides an outstanding opportunity to learn first-hand about the formation of public policies that affect the well-being of children and families and to provide input from a FCS perspective.

I am fortunate to be the sixth recipient of the Chalkley Public Policy Award. My project focused on identifying a key family-related issue that would be considered during the second session of the 106th Congress and create a matrix to map partners and actions critical to providing worthwhile input to legislation under consideration.

PUBLIC POLICY ISSUE IDENTIFICATION AND SELECTION

The first challenge was to identify an issue that had potential for consideration during the current legislative session. To assist in this effort, I attended meetings of the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues, School Age Youth Network, and One Dupont Welfare Reform Coalition as well as visited with numerous agency representatives, congressional staffers, and AAFCS members. Review of the "Congressional Quarterly Daily Monitor" as well as Web searches contributed to identifying an appropriate public policy issue. President Clinton's seventh State of the Union address was also an excellent source and reflected a strong message for the well-being of children and families. In this message he articulated an ambitious agenda for congressional consideration, much of which has significant implications for the Family and Consumer Sciences Profession.

From this situation, analysis the issue of quality and access to public education rose to the top as a priority for AAFCS, related agencies and groups as well as among policymakers. The timing for this issue is also right given that the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESFA) is scheduled for reauthorization this year. A specific portion of this Act has particular relevance to the mission of AFFCS as well as interest of related agencies and groups.

Authorized under Title X, Part I, of the ESEA, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st Century) Program provides grants to public schools to open their facilities during out-of-school hours to a broad array of community activities. To date, the focus has been on expanding academic learning opportunities for children in after-school programs. …

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