Child Health

The Children’s Protection Act Will Bring Children’s Health and Wellbeing to the Forefront of Rule-Making

October 13, 2020 | National

Throughout CDF’s history, regulatory and administrative advocacy has been an important part of our work to ensure effective implementation of key programs and laws that improve the odds for children. This year has been no exception. Since the beginning of 2020, we have offered formal comment to the Trump Administration on a wide array of proposed rules that would impact the health, safety, and wellbeing of our children. Some examples include:

  • The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) public charge rule which imposes harsh new evaluation standards for Legal Permanent Residency and discourages immigrant families from accessing benefits like food assistance, health coverage, and safe housing which they are eligible for and need. 
  • The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rule to remove important non-discrimination protections on the basis of sex, religion, gender identity, and sexual orientation which would allow federally-funded adoption agencies to discriminate against eligible and loving foster and adoptive families. 
  • Multiple US Department of Agriculture (USDA) rules to weaken SNAP which would subject families to ineffective work requirements and time limits, take benefits from families who rely on them, and cause thousands of children to lose their automatic eligibility for free school meals. 
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) rule on the implementation of the Fair Housing Act’s disparate impact standard which would weaken a critical tool in combating discriminatory housing policies and leave children of color and children in low-income families at greater risk. 

While proposed regulations often have a significant impact on children, that impact is rarely made explicit as part of the formal regulatory process. Currently, federal agencies are not required to analyze or share how regulatory changes could impact or harm children. This lack of oversight allows federal agencies to propose and implement rules which could impact access to food assistance, health coverage, loving foster and adoptive families, or stable housing without considering how they may harm our nation’s most vulnerable who rely on these services and supports.

To address this issue, last week, House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley introduced the Children’s Protection Act to better ensure our regulatory process prioritizes the health and wellbeing of our children. The Children’s Protection Act legislation would:

  • Mandate agencies analyze and publicly disclose how many children could be impacted by their rules—including demographic information—and how they could be harmed. 
  • Require an initial and final analysis be conducted by review panels with expertise in children’s health and education for rules that could harm the health of children. These analyses would include estimates of how many children could be impacted, projected increases in negative health or educational outcomes, and alternatives that could accomplish the same objectives but minimize negative impacts or provide greater benefits to children.
  • Require public access to documents and comments exchanged during the rulemaking process to improve transparency.

The Children’s Defense Fund is proud to endorse this legislation as it will help to ensure the health and wellbeing of our nation’s children is at the forefront of decision-making. 

Read more about the Children’s Protection Act here.