On Tuesday, May 10, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on evidenced-based programs and strategies in human services.  In his opening remarks Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) highlighted the substance abuse Regional Partnership Grants (RPGs) as well as home visiting programs as examples of using evidence based practices to have an impact.  He also strongly defended proposals around social impact bonds against criticism that some efforts fail.

He argued that part of the strategy was to better understand which programs are effective.

Senator Hatch also said that he and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) were in current negotiation with their House counterparts over the families first draft legislation with its intended goal of promoting evidenced-based programs.

Testimony was heard from Gordon L. Berlin, President, MDRC, NY, James Lee Sorenson, Chairman, Sorenson Impact Foundation, Salt Lake City, Ms. Tesha Bright, Nurse Home Visitor,  Essex and Morris Counties, Newark, and Mr. Robert Doar, Morgridge Fellow In Poverty Studies, American Enterprise Institute, Washington , DC.

Senator Wyden offered praise for home visiting as an example that is working as far as evidenced based practices.  He also held up TANF as an example of a program not based on effective strategies or research.  He criticized TANF for rewarding reduced caseloads as opposed to helping families.  He also offered encouraging interest and remarks on social impact bonds.

Next week the House Human Resources Subcommittee will be holding a similar hearing but focused on the substance abuse issue.  The hearing “The Heroin Epidemic and Parental Substance Abuse: Using Evidence and Data to Protect Kids from Harm,” as well as this Senate hearing are laying the groundwork for a future vote on legislation that will at least reauthorize the IV-B programs and may include parts of the families first draft legislation.