Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood. The DRA provides funding for research and demonstrations that support healthy marriage. Approximately 125 Federal grants were awarded to States and communities to test new ways to promote and support healthy married-parent families. Grant funds will be used to test promising approaches to encourage healthy marriages and provide marriage education, marriage skills training, public advertising campaigns, high school education on the value of marriage, and marriage mentoring programs.
HHS supports several other healthy marriage activities and research, including Building Strong Families, Supporting Healthy Marriages, and the Community Healthy Marriage Initiative. The purpose of the Building Strong Families project is to evaluate healthy marriage services for romantically involved low-income, unwed parents around the time of the birth of a child. The purpose of Supporting Healthy Marriages is to inform program operators and policymakers of the most effective ways to help married parents to strengthen and maintain their marriages. The Community Healthy Marriage Initiative evaluates broad-based community-level coalitions that help couples who choose marriage for themselves to develop the skills and knowledge to form and sustain healthy marriages. In collaboration with the U.S. Department of State, HHS also promotes programs and policies at international organizations to strengthen families and marriages and to promote the preservation of human life and dignity.
The Promoting Responsible Fatherhood Initiative promotes responsible fatherhood by funding programs that support healthy marriage activities, enhance responsible parenting, and foster economic stability. The initiative will enable fathers to improve their relationships and reconnect with their children. It will help fathers overcome obstacles and barriers that often prevent them from being the most effective and nurturing parent possible. Although the primary goal of the initiative is to promote fatherhood in all of its various forms, an essential point is to encourage fatherhood within the context of marriage. Grant funds will be allocated to promote involved, committed, responsible fatherhood through counseling, mentoring, marriage education, enhancing relationship skills, parenting, and activities to foster economic stability.
Family Violence. ACF’s Family Violence Prevention and Services Program, administered by the Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB), provides grants to States and tribes to prevent incidents of family violence, provide immediate shelter and related assistance for victims of family violence, and support prevention services for perpetrators. FYSB also supports programs that offer safe havens and access to services for victims of domestic violence, a national toll-free hotline to provide information and assistance to victims of domestic violence, maternity group home services, and runaway and homeless youth shelters.
Several collaborative efforts both within HHS and in partnership with other departments and stakeholders support this effort to prevent family violence. The National Advisory Committee on Violence Against Women is an advisory body cochaired by the Attorney General and the Secretary of HHS. National Advisory Committee members meet periodically to share their thoughts, ideas, and expertise and to submit recommendations on a variety of priority issues as the Federal Government develops its policies to address the crimes of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. The Greenbook initiative, a joint project of HHS and the U.S. Department of Justice, supported six demonstration projects, helping child welfare and domestic violence agencies and family courts work together more effectively to help families experiencing violence. Now that the funding cycle has been completed, HHS will partner with the U.S. Department of Justice and with the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges to provide technical assistance and support to communities interested in implementing the Greenbook’s recommendations.
Support for Older Adults in Home and Community Settings. AoA’s Home and Community-Based Supportive Services program provides an array of services to older adults and their caregivers, including access services such as transportation, case management, and information and referral; in-home services such as personal care, chore, and homemaker assistance; and community services such as adult day care, respite care, and disease prevention, health promotion, and physical fitness programs. Together, these services strive to help older adults maintain their independence and enable them to stay in their homes and communities for as long as possible, delaying the need for costly institutional care.
New Freedom Initiative and Olmstead Decision Response. The HHS Office on Disability (OD) was created in 2002 as an outcome of President Bush’s New Freedom Initiative. The New Freedom Initiative commits the United States to a policy of community integration for individuals with disabilities. OD and OCR are involved in a variety of efforts to enhance the independence and quality of life of persons with disabilities, including those with long-term needs. OD, through the New Freedom Initiative, ensures a coordinated interagency and intergovernmental approach in support of community integration to tear down barriers on behalf of individuals with disabilities. In Olmstead v. L.C. (1999), the U.S. Supreme Court held that States unjustifiably segregating qualified persons with disabilities in institutions is a form of discrimination prohibited by Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-336). OCR has the authority to enforce the Olmstead decision, and has done so through hundreds of complaint investigations, voluntary compliance efforts, outreach initiatives, and technical assistance projects. Through these efforts, OCR ensures that, when appropriate, States provide individuals with disabilities access to services in the community. OCR will continue its Olmstead-related efforts, ensuring that individuals with disabilities return to or remain in their communities with adequate supports.
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. ACF’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) will continue to provide home energy assistance through grants to States, tribes, and territories. Of the households receiving heating assistance, about one-third include a member 60 years or older; about half have at least one person with a disability; and about one-fifth include at least one child 5 years old or younger.xxxii For the past several years, almost 5 million households per year received LIHEAP assistance to help them through the winter months. The program also provides cooling assistance to about 400,000 households and weatherization assistance to about 90,000 more.