By Bethany Anderson
In early October, 27 chairs of human services and related appropriations committees representing 21 states convened in Nashville, Tenn. for NCSL’s Human Services Chairs Meeting.
Music City was a great host as these decision-makers gathered for a learning experience uniquely designed for committee chairs.
The group met over three days and learned from a variety of presenters on child welfare reforms, adverse childhood experiences, early learning effects and federal representatives spoke about the Child Care and Development Block Grant and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
(Senator Thomas Alexander (R-S.C.) helped close the meeting.)
The meeting focused on multi-generational strategies and how legislators can work across programs to help parents work and children succeed.
Attendees heard from Senator A.J. Griffin (R-Okla.), who highlighted legislation she authored to support foster families. She was joined by NAME the Annie E. Casey Foundation who discussed child welfare reform strategies to support foster parents. The group also learned about efforts to support child welfare caseworkers in Tennessee and Colorado.
The human services chairs joined education chairs for a powerful joint session on adverse childhood experiences (ACES) featuring Dr. Nadine Burke Harris [by video] and Liz Huntley. Both presenters have strong, personal stories on ACES, their effects and policy implications.
Zero to Three presented to the group on Safe Babies Courts and other strategies for addressing parental substance use. Legislators were also connected with NCSL’s substance abuse and child welfare website, which houses additional resources.
The meeting received positive feedback, with the majority of attendants strongly agreeing the meeting was useful, met expectations and increased their knowledge on human services issues. Legislators identified various policy areas they plan to take back to their home states, including foster care, two-generation anti-poverty strategies, and trauma informed care.
For more information, visit the Human Services Chairs Meeting page to view the full agenda and PowerPoint presentations.
Bethany Anderson is a policy associate in NCSL's Children and Families Program.