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Meng Secures Provisions Critical for Mothers and Children

Sep 4, 2019
Press Release
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), a member of the House Appropriations Committee who has championed issues in Congress that seek to improve the lives of families, announced today that she secured several provisions to strengthen the safety of moms and children. The measures were included across several fiscal year 2020 spending packages that recently passed the House of Representatives. They consist of the following items:
  • Directing the Secretary of Education to provide at least $25 million to expand school-based mental health services. Funding would be provided to state educational agencies (SEA), local educational agencies (LEAs), or a consortium of LEAs to increase the number of well-trained school counselors, social workers, psychologists, or other professionals that are qualified to provide mental health assistance to students.
  • Directing the Department of Defense to spend $13 million for a nationwide health study of Per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) substances, and an additional $5 million for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to conduct a similar health study at non-DOD sites. Those exposed to PFAS can suffer from a variety of negative health impacts. Substances can be found in food packaging, commercial products, drinking water and in the workplace.
  • Providing $5 million in grants to prevent the trafficking of girls. Funds would also be provided to nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations that have undergone rigorous evaluation, and have a successful track record of administering research-based prevention and early intervention programs for girls who are vulnerable to trafficking, and are most likely to end up in the juvenile justice system. The funding would be used to improve and replicate existing programs that have been proven successful.
  • Calling on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in light of reports of known carcinogens that may be found in cosmetics, to educate the public – through a variety of communications tools – on the dangers of cosmetic products for which a company fails to comply with a recall.
  • Urging the FDA to continue its efforts in improving cosmetic safety, and continuing to work with stakeholders and Congress to modernize the regulatory framework for cosmetics. The measure also calls for a report – within 180 days of the measure’s enactment – on what it would take for the FDA to establish good manufacturing practices for cosmetics.
  • Requiring a report on the effects of direct food additives to determine if they pose physical and behavioral health risks to children. There are more than 10,000 additives to preserve or modify the taste, appearance and nutrients in food. Food additives and their effects are dramatically under-studied and launching a probe would increase transparency in the foods that kids eat.
  • Urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to finalize regulations that ensure plumbing components are in compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act, which sets standards and protections to ensure that drinking water is safe.
Meng was also proud to have supported several other initiatives related to mothers and children, as well as funding for education, including:
  • $973 million for programs to improve maternal and child health including an additional $5 million to reduce maternal mortality.
  • $964 million for Youth Employment and Training Activities.
  • $128 million for YouthBuild, a program for low-income youth between the ages of ages 16-24, to earn their high school diploma or equivalent, learn skills, and gain industry-recognized credentials needed to join the workforce, and give back to their communities by building affordable housing for low-income individuals.
  • Directing the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to enhance and expand parenting program opportunities and eligibility criteria for each employee and pregnant incarcerated woman.
  • Encouraging the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to work with states to identify and disseminate best practices to increase the number of youth who vote in elections. 
  • Providing $7.7 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant; $11.6 billion for Head Start; and $350 million for Preschool Development Grants.
In addition to all the above items, Meng is continuing to push the Get Additives Out Act which would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to examine the health risks that food additives have on children. She is also sponsoring the Safe Drinking Water in Playgrounds and Parks Act which seeks to help states, schools, and municipalities replace drinking water fountains with lead. In addition, she recently testified about her legislative efforts before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
“Protecting children and families and keeping them out of harm’s way will always be one of my top priorities,” said Meng. “After all, ensuring the safety and health of my own two young children is always at the forefront of everything I do. That is why I founded and serve as Co-Chair of the Kids’ Safety Caucus – so that I can continue to fight for every child and family. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I will also make sure our federal funding priorities are investing in these children and their families. Families and kids deserve to be safe and not be exposed to dangerous substances, and I will keep up the fight on this critical effort.”