Bookmark and Share
Overview:

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is a “principal operating division” of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).ACF oversees and finances social and economic programs for vulnerable children and families, designed to “help them and develop toward a more independent, self-reliant life.” Targeted groups include Native Americans, persons with developmental disabilities, refugees and legalized aliens. Programs are carried out by state, county, city and tribal governments, as well as public and private local agencies. Critics argue that ACF, a relatively new administration, has been deployed as a forum to push the Bush Administration’s more conservative initiatives - funneling money to (discredited) abstinence-only programs and marriage promotion grants.

more
History:

The Department of Health and Human Services created the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) as a principal operating division in 1991. The new Administration merged employees and functions of the Family Support Administration (FSA) and the Office of Human Development Services (OHDS).
 
Under former Secretary Wade Horn (2001-2007) in particular, the ACF promoted policies that appear to pander to the religious right and socially conservative elements - like marriage promotion for poor women as an anti-poverty strategy, reduced access to higher education for welfare recipients (due to a “work-first” mandate), a willfully ignorant chastity strategy for both youth and adults, and Horn’s personal expertise: conservative marriage promotion in the guise of healthy fatherhood.
 
In 2004, authority over the federal abstinence-only-until marriage program (funded by Section 510 of the Social Security Act, Title V) was transferred from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), traditionally the province of federal health programs (including for HIV/AIDS, rural and minority health), to the arguably more conservative ACF. The move, note health advocacy groups, signals a parallel one - from health and rights-based sexual education to the Bush Administration’s ideologically fueled, discriminatory family initiatives. Abstinence-only programs have been largely discredited in Congressional and independent reports, as well as by medical and professional communities, but continue to receive massive federal funding, held in place by the comprehensive network that arose under Horn’s leadership. (See Debate section).
 
 
more
What it Does:

ACF develops and implements national policy on families and children, providing leadership and coordination for a national network of public and private programs. ACF administers federal funds for short-term financial assistance, as well as education, training and employment for long-term stability. Program focus includes marginalized groups such as Native Americans, refugees, legalized aliens and people with developmental disabilities. Child and Youth programs focus on those with special problems, including “children of low-income families, abused and neglected children, those in institutions or requiring adoption or foster family services, runaway youth, children with disabilities, migrant children, and Native American children.”
 
ACF’s “Key Priorities” include youth development, healthy marriage, fatherhood and faith-based initiatives, rural communities, early literacy, welfare reform, prevention over intervention, and service-delivery improvement.
 
 
Initiatives
 
Programs
Programs include the Administration for Native Americans, Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF), Administration on Developmental Disabilities, Assets for Independence, Child Care Bureau, Child Support Enforcement, Children's Bureau, Compassion Capital Fund, Division of Tribal Services, Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities Program, Family and Youth Services Bureau, Healthy Marriage Initiative, Low Income Home Energy Assistance, Office of Community Services, Office of Family Assistance (TANF/AFDC/JOBS), Office of Financial Services, Office of Head Start (OHS), Office of Legislative Affairs and Budget, Office of Planning Research and Evaluation, Office of Public Affairs (OPA), Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), Office of Regional Operations, The President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities, and Public Assistance Reporting Information System (PARIS) - as well as regional offices. (Below)
 
Organization
 
Regional Offices
Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont
Region 2 - New York
New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands
Region 3 - Philadelphia
Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia
Region 4 - Atlanta
Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee
Region 5 - Chicago
Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin
Region 6 - Dallas
Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas
Region 7 – Kansas City
Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska
Region 8 - Denver
Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming
Region 9 - San Francisco
Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Marshall Islands, and Republic of Palau

Region 10 - Seattle

Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington

 

more
Suggested Reforms:

Bipartisan suggestions for reform tend to be predictable - with Democrats tackling the ideological nature of ACF’s family programs and conservative welfare reform, and Republicans attempting to redirect welfare funding to marriage and faith-based initiatives. The result is a wrestling over funds and ideology - with the nation’s neediest families and children caught in the divide.
 
More practical criticism and suggestions for reform, including from Congressional reviews, and for various programs including Head Start and Abstinence-Only, tend to focus on HHS and the accuracy and reliability of the data that ACF collects and employs.
 
Welfare Reform
Since the major welfare overhaul in 1996 (when Clinton signed The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996), the number of people receiving assistance has dramatically declined (though poverty levels in the U.S., especially for children, remain at unacceptable levels). And though the 1996 reforms made few changes directly to child welfare policy, many provisions have a direct impact. Since Bush took the office, he has given significant power-share to conservative religious groups who manage to muscle their way into the restructuring of welfare and other ACF services toward socially conservative family, faith-based and marriage promotion plans. (Please see Debate and Former Director sections for more information on ACF and the Bush Administration).
 
From the Right
Read Patrick Fagan’s “scientific” research about marriage and the ill effects of divorce, and his recommendations for beefing up the Marriage Initiative by stealing funds from TANF, child support enforcement, and family planning programs:
The Federal and State Governments, Welfare and Marriage Issues (by Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D, Testimony, Heritage Foundation)

Welfare Reform’s Implications for the Child Welfare Systems

(by April Kaplan, Welfare Information Network)

 

more
Debate:

The ACF is assailed from both sides of the political spectrum - by Democrats for being a weak puppet of the Bush Administration, and from the right for wasting tax-payer dollars on the poor.
 
Abstinence-Only Education
The federal definition of “abstinence education” prohibits federally funded programs from discussing the effectiveness of condoms and contraception in preventing disease transmission and pregnancy - except in negative terms (failure rates). Independent government reports have recently revealed that many programs also discourage the use of condoms and contraception and give youth medically inaccurate information.
 
Sexual and reproductive health and rights of youth, as codified in international law, include the right to comprehensive and relevant information. The principle of abstinence-only-until-marriage education (AOUM) is based on the denial of critical information about sexual and reproductive health and rights - including disease transmission. Moreover, AOUM programs are by their very nature discriminatory. Program administrators are bound by a tight definition that alienates and stigmatizes youth who are or have been sexually active, those who have been sexually abused, and marginalized groups such as gay and lesbian youth.
 
Unproven, Ineffective
In 2004, a committee headed by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) prepared a report based on a review of the curricula of more than a dozen abstinence-only programs - and found that two-thirds of federally funded abstinence-only programs distribute “false, misleading, or distorted information about reproductive health.” (Roundtable)
 
In a December 2004 article, the Washington Post summed up the Waxman Committee’s findings as follows: “Many American youngsters participating in federally funded abstinence-only programs have been taught over the past three years that abortion can lead to sterility and suicide, that half the gay male teenagers in the United States have tested positive for the AIDS virus, and that touching a person's genitals ‘can result in pregnancy’…”
 
In 2006, the Society for Adolescent Medicine labeled the AOUM programs “scientifically and ethically flawed,” noting, as many have long maintained, that the “efficacy of abstinence-only interventions may approach zero.” The same year, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a study criticizing Health and Human Services (HHS) and ACF for providing inaccurate information about condom use and effectiveness. The 2006 report was the result of a request from 20 Congress members, and included the following criticism of ACF - “which administers the two programs that account for the largest portion of federal spending on abstinence-until-marriage education, does not review or require its grantees to review program materials for scientific accuracy. In addition, not all grantees of the State Program have chosen to review their materials. Because of these limitations, ACF cannot be assured that the materials used in its State and Community-Based Programs are accurate.” (GAO Report 2006)
 
In 2007, the government commissioned a study from Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. on Title V AOUM programs, which showed the programs did not impact teen behavior. (Source: Advocates for Youth).
 
History/Funding
While Washington Post coverage of the issue (see article below) notes that Congress first allocated funds for abstinence-only programs in 1999, domestic abstinence-only-until-marriage programs actually date as far back as the Reagan Administration. Since then, funding has steadily increased, ballooning to $1.5 billion (in direct and channeled funds) between FY1996 and FY 2006. In FY 2001 President Bush significantly increased funding, and by FY 2007 allocations totaled $176 million, with recommendations for FY 2008 and FY 2009 at $204 million.
 
Funding is primarily distributed through the following initiatives: the Adolescent Family Life Act, Title V Welfare Reform Act, and Community-Based Abstinence Education. AOUM programs are delivered by schools and youth development groups, human service agencies, faith-based organizations and pregnancy crisis centers. (Source: Roundtable)
 
According to SIECUS, alternative channels - such as Congressional earmarked funds - also pump money into the programs:
“In both Fiscal Years 2004 and 2005, Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) earmarked over $3 million in federal funds for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in his home state of Pennsylvania. Conservative organizations such as the Abstinence Clearinghouse and the Medical Institute (formerly known as the Medical Institute for Sexual Health), have also received funds specially earmarked by Congress. Increasingly, abstinence-only-until-marriage providers are also receiving funds through traditional HIV/AIDS and STD prevention accounts such as those administered by HHS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).”
 
Community-Based Abstinence Education and ACF
In FY 2005 ACF began administering the Community-Based Abstinence Education programs (originally known as Special Projects of Regional and National Significance–Community-Based Abstinence Education, now referred to as CBAE), under which federal funding bypasses state approval and is awarded directly to community-based organizations. CBAE-funded programs are required to teach all eight points in the federal “abstinence education” definition. Critics logically fear that the more restrictive standards are an attempt by conservative lawmakers to control the flow of funds to programs that adhere to a more ideologically driven agenda.
 
More Information
Some Abstinence Programs Mislead Teens, Report Says (by Ceci Connolly, Washington Post)
The Abstinence Gluttons (by Michael Reynolds, The Nation)
 
Marriage Promotion

Government Watchdog Says States and Feds Fall Short on Abstinence: The Roundtable on Religion and Social Welfare Policy

(by Anne Farris, Roundtable on Religion and Social Welfare Policy)

 

more
Former Directors:

Wade Horn
Before joining the ACF as Secretary in July 2001, Wade Horn founded and ran the conservative National Fatherhood Initiative in 1994 with funding from the Religious Right. At ACF he oversaw a mélange of programs highly palatable to the religious right and social conservatives - most notably abstinence-only education (he extended chastity strategy to adults) but also harmful and discriminatory welfare reform and the promotion of (exclusively heterosexual) marriage and traditional values as a means/in place of social and economic development - even suggesting that Headstart should be limited to children of married couples. He awarded his organization, the National Fatherhood Initiative, with a “capacities-building” grant of just under a million dollars from a program he started in the HHS, the Responsible Fatherhood Initiative. Horu left ACF in April 2007.
 
The Abstinence Gluttons (by Michael Reynolds, The Nation)
Wade's Horn of plenty (by Bill Berkowitz, Smirking Chimp)
Hand That Feeds (by Cyn Cooper, Talk to Action Blog)

 

more

Comments

Mark Winlow 1 year ago
don't know that end of the state well, but you and your husband need to join dads of tennessee on facebook and provide this information. several good people including loving mothers might be able to help or make suggestions. they helped me find an attorney in oak ridge.
Tammy Cook 2 years ago
to whom can help, we live in tipton county, tn., my husband has back child support do to past issues with his ex-wife, but he knows he needs to pay it. judge martha brasfield, has done nothing but treat him unjust, has created deprevation of character, discrimination and emotional distress for our family. and is making it unrealistic in paying it back. it was 65,000.00, then they added 12% to it and compounded it and raised it to 106,000.00, he has paid in up to 30,000.00 and has...

Leave a comment

captcha

Founded: 1991
Annual Budget: $45.6 million (2009)
Employees: 1,800
Official Website: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/
Administration for Children and Families
Sheldon, George
Acting Assistant Secretary

George H. Sheldon is the Acting Assistant Secretary for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. ACF oversees and finances social and economic programs for vulnerable children and families. Starting May 16, 2011, he served as Senior Advisor to David Hansell until his departure on June 17, when Sheldon became Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary and Acting Assistant Secretary at ACF.

 
Born in June 1947 in Wildwood, New Jersey, at age seven Sheldon moved to Plant City, Florida, and grew up there. He attended American University and Florida Southern College before earning his B.A. at Florida State University in 1969; he later earned a J.D. from Florida State in 1978.
 
Sheldon began his career in 1967 with the Florida Department of State and then became an aide to Democratic State Senator Reubin Askew. When Askew was elected Governor in 1970, Sheldon helped organize the new administration by running the transition office, and later served as assistant to the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services (the forerunner of today’s Department of Children and Families (DCF)) while attending law school.
 
In the early 1970s, Sheldon established in Tampa what became a model drug abuse prevention and treatment program. As executive director in 1971, Sheldon increased by over 400% the services provided by the Hillsborough Association for Retarded Citizens, managing a staff of close to one hundred. From 1975 to 1983, Sheldon served in the Florida House of Representatives as a Democrat, where his key legislative accomplishments included the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1976, which he wrote, and the Community Care for the Elderly Act of 1976, which he co-sponsored.
 
After an unsuccessful 1984 campaign for Congress, Sheldon went back to private law practice, joining the law firm of Levine, Freedman, Hirsch and Levinson in Tampa. In 1987 he established a consulting firm, Sheldon, Cusick and Associates, and successfully lobbied for initial funding of $52 million for computers in the classroom and for increased funding in subsequent years.
 
Sheldon returned to public service in 1999, serving as Deputy Attorney General for Central Florida under Attorney General Bob Butterworth, the same man he would later succeed at DCF. After the 2002 elections, in which Sheldon ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic primary for Florida Attorney General and Republican Jeb Bush was elected Governor, Sheldon left government. From August 2003 to January 2007, he was Associate Dean for Student and Alumni Services at St. Thomas University School of Law in Miami.
 
Sheldon began his tenure with DCF in February 2007, serving as assistant secretary for operations until August 2008, and then as Secretary of DCF until May 2011. He was appointed to both posts by Governor Charlie Crist, a moderate Republican against whom in 2000 Sheldon had run unsuccessfully for state education commissioner. In a harsh campaign, Crist briefly ran a TV spot attacking Sheldon for a 1984 DUI arrest and his earlier support of a bill to keep first-time marijuana offenders out of jail. Crist quickly pulled the ad, however, which coincided with the surfacing of George W. Bush’s 1976 DUI in Maine.
 
During his time at DCF, Sheldon opposed Florida’s legislative ban on gay adoption, which was overturned in 2010. The agency saw a 36% reduction in children in out-of-home care, and Florida achieved the nation’s highest rate of adoptions among foster children for two years.
 
A lifelong Democrat, Sheldon has contributed $10,339 to Democratic candidates and causes since 1990, including $500 to the Democratic National Committee, $1,000 to Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, $1,500 to Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign, $1,000 to Robert Wexler’s 1996 Congressional campaign, and $1,500 to Bill Nelson’s successful 1996 Senate campaign.
 
George Sheldon Wins Permanent DCF Post (by Jennifer Liberto, Tampa Bay Times)
Capital Movers: George Sheldon (Sunshine State News)
A Q and A With George Sheldon (National Conference of State Legislatures)
 
 
more
Hansell, David
Previous Acting Secretary

David Hansell began serving as the acting assistant secretary for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), within the Department of Health and Human Services, in July 2010. Created in 1991, ACF finances and oversees social and economic programs for vulnerable children and families, including Native Americans, people with developmental disabilities, refugees and legal aliens.

 
Hansell’s father was a lawyer who continued to practice into his 80s. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Hansell graduated from Haverford College in 1975 and earned his J.D. at Yale Law School, He was admitted to the New York bar in 1984 and worked on the staff of Michigan Democratic Senators Donald Riegle Jr. and Carl Levin. Before returning to public service, he served for many years in a range of positions at Gay Men’s Health Crisis in Manhattan, including director of legal services and deputy director for government and public affairs.
 
In 1997, he became the associate commissioner for HIV services at the New York City Department of Health, and subsequently served as associate commissioner for planning and program implementation.
 
He served as Human Resources Administration chief-of-staff to New York City’s HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA) commissioner Verna Eggleston (2002-2006). Concurrently, he was an adjunct assistant professor at the New York University Wagner School of Public Service.
 
From 2007-2009, he was commissioner of the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, which oversees support programs and economic assistance for low-income New Yorkers. He played an important role in establishing Stand Up Harlem Houses, which provide housing to homeless or drug-addicted people living with HIV/AIDS in Harlem.
 
Hansell joined the Administration for Children and Families in June 2009, serving as principal deputy assistant secretary until July 2010, when he became acting head of the agency.
 
Hansell’s partner is Rob Cimino.

 

more
Bookmark and Share
Overview:

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is a “principal operating division” of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).ACF oversees and finances social and economic programs for vulnerable children and families, designed to “help them and develop toward a more independent, self-reliant life.” Targeted groups include Native Americans, persons with developmental disabilities, refugees and legalized aliens. Programs are carried out by state, county, city and tribal governments, as well as public and private local agencies. Critics argue that ACF, a relatively new administration, has been deployed as a forum to push the Bush Administration’s more conservative initiatives - funneling money to (discredited) abstinence-only programs and marriage promotion grants.

more
History:

The Department of Health and Human Services created the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) as a principal operating division in 1991. The new Administration merged employees and functions of the Family Support Administration (FSA) and the Office of Human Development Services (OHDS).
 
Under former Secretary Wade Horn (2001-2007) in particular, the ACF promoted policies that appear to pander to the religious right and socially conservative elements - like marriage promotion for poor women as an anti-poverty strategy, reduced access to higher education for welfare recipients (due to a “work-first” mandate), a willfully ignorant chastity strategy for both youth and adults, and Horn’s personal expertise: conservative marriage promotion in the guise of healthy fatherhood.
 
In 2004, authority over the federal abstinence-only-until marriage program (funded by Section 510 of the Social Security Act, Title V) was transferred from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), traditionally the province of federal health programs (including for HIV/AIDS, rural and minority health), to the arguably more conservative ACF. The move, note health advocacy groups, signals a parallel one - from health and rights-based sexual education to the Bush Administration’s ideologically fueled, discriminatory family initiatives. Abstinence-only programs have been largely discredited in Congressional and independent reports, as well as by medical and professional communities, but continue to receive massive federal funding, held in place by the comprehensive network that arose under Horn’s leadership. (See Debate section).
 
 
more
What it Does:

ACF develops and implements national policy on families and children, providing leadership and coordination for a national network of public and private programs. ACF administers federal funds for short-term financial assistance, as well as education, training and employment for long-term stability. Program focus includes marginalized groups such as Native Americans, refugees, legalized aliens and people with developmental disabilities. Child and Youth programs focus on those with special problems, including “children of low-income families, abused and neglected children, those in institutions or requiring adoption or foster family services, runaway youth, children with disabilities, migrant children, and Native American children.”
 
ACF’s “Key Priorities” include youth development, healthy marriage, fatherhood and faith-based initiatives, rural communities, early literacy, welfare reform, prevention over intervention, and service-delivery improvement.
 
 
Initiatives
 
Programs
Programs include the Administration for Native Americans, Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF), Administration on Developmental Disabilities, Assets for Independence, Child Care Bureau, Child Support Enforcement, Children's Bureau, Compassion Capital Fund, Division of Tribal Services, Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities Program, Family and Youth Services Bureau, Healthy Marriage Initiative, Low Income Home Energy Assistance, Office of Community Services, Office of Family Assistance (TANF/AFDC/JOBS), Office of Financial Services, Office of Head Start (OHS), Office of Legislative Affairs and Budget, Office of Planning Research and Evaluation, Office of Public Affairs (OPA), Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), Office of Regional Operations, The President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities, and Public Assistance Reporting Information System (PARIS) - as well as regional offices. (Below)
 
Organization
 
Regional Offices
Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont
Region 2 - New York
New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands
Region 3 - Philadelphia
Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia
Region 4 - Atlanta
Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee
Region 5 - Chicago
Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin
Region 6 - Dallas
Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas
Region 7 – Kansas City
Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska
Region 8 - Denver
Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming
Region 9 - San Francisco
Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Marshall Islands, and Republic of Palau

Region 10 - Seattle

Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington

 

more
Suggested Reforms:

Bipartisan suggestions for reform tend to be predictable - with Democrats tackling the ideological nature of ACF’s family programs and conservative welfare reform, and Republicans attempting to redirect welfare funding to marriage and faith-based initiatives. The result is a wrestling over funds and ideology - with the nation’s neediest families and children caught in the divide.
 
More practical criticism and suggestions for reform, including from Congressional reviews, and for various programs including Head Start and Abstinence-Only, tend to focus on HHS and the accuracy and reliability of the data that ACF collects and employs.
 
Welfare Reform
Since the major welfare overhaul in 1996 (when Clinton signed The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996), the number of people receiving assistance has dramatically declined (though poverty levels in the U.S., especially for children, remain at unacceptable levels). And though the 1996 reforms made few changes directly to child welfare policy, many provisions have a direct impact. Since Bush took the office, he has given significant power-share to conservative religious groups who manage to muscle their way into the restructuring of welfare and other ACF services toward socially conservative family, faith-based and marriage promotion plans. (Please see Debate and Former Director sections for more information on ACF and the Bush Administration).
 
From the Right
Read Patrick Fagan’s “scientific” research about marriage and the ill effects of divorce, and his recommendations for beefing up the Marriage Initiative by stealing funds from TANF, child support enforcement, and family planning programs:
The Federal and State Governments, Welfare and Marriage Issues (by Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D, Testimony, Heritage Foundation)

Welfare Reform’s Implications for the Child Welfare Systems

(by April Kaplan, Welfare Information Network)

 

more
Debate:

The ACF is assailed from both sides of the political spectrum - by Democrats for being a weak puppet of the Bush Administration, and from the right for wasting tax-payer dollars on the poor.
 
Abstinence-Only Education
The federal definition of “abstinence education” prohibits federally funded programs from discussing the effectiveness of condoms and contraception in preventing disease transmission and pregnancy - except in negative terms (failure rates). Independent government reports have recently revealed that many programs also discourage the use of condoms and contraception and give youth medically inaccurate information.
 
Sexual and reproductive health and rights of youth, as codified in international law, include the right to comprehensive and relevant information. The principle of abstinence-only-until-marriage education (AOUM) is based on the denial of critical information about sexual and reproductive health and rights - including disease transmission. Moreover, AOUM programs are by their very nature discriminatory. Program administrators are bound by a tight definition that alienates and stigmatizes youth who are or have been sexually active, those who have been sexually abused, and marginalized groups such as gay and lesbian youth.
 
Unproven, Ineffective
In 2004, a committee headed by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) prepared a report based on a review of the curricula of more than a dozen abstinence-only programs - and found that two-thirds of federally funded abstinence-only programs distribute “false, misleading, or distorted information about reproductive health.” (Roundtable)
 
In a December 2004 article, the Washington Post summed up the Waxman Committee’s findings as follows: “Many American youngsters participating in federally funded abstinence-only programs have been taught over the past three years that abortion can lead to sterility and suicide, that half the gay male teenagers in the United States have tested positive for the AIDS virus, and that touching a person's genitals ‘can result in pregnancy’…”
 
In 2006, the Society for Adolescent Medicine labeled the AOUM programs “scientifically and ethically flawed,” noting, as many have long maintained, that the “efficacy of abstinence-only interventions may approach zero.” The same year, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a study criticizing Health and Human Services (HHS) and ACF for providing inaccurate information about condom use and effectiveness. The 2006 report was the result of a request from 20 Congress members, and included the following criticism of ACF - “which administers the two programs that account for the largest portion of federal spending on abstinence-until-marriage education, does not review or require its grantees to review program materials for scientific accuracy. In addition, not all grantees of the State Program have chosen to review their materials. Because of these limitations, ACF cannot be assured that the materials used in its State and Community-Based Programs are accurate.” (GAO Report 2006)
 
In 2007, the government commissioned a study from Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. on Title V AOUM programs, which showed the programs did not impact teen behavior. (Source: Advocates for Youth).
 
History/Funding
While Washington Post coverage of the issue (see article below) notes that Congress first allocated funds for abstinence-only programs in 1999, domestic abstinence-only-until-marriage programs actually date as far back as the Reagan Administration. Since then, funding has steadily increased, ballooning to $1.5 billion (in direct and channeled funds) between FY1996 and FY 2006. In FY 2001 President Bush significantly increased funding, and by FY 2007 allocations totaled $176 million, with recommendations for FY 2008 and FY 2009 at $204 million.
 
Funding is primarily distributed through the following initiatives: the Adolescent Family Life Act, Title V Welfare Reform Act, and Community-Based Abstinence Education. AOUM programs are delivered by schools and youth development groups, human service agencies, faith-based organizations and pregnancy crisis centers. (Source: Roundtable)
 
According to SIECUS, alternative channels - such as Congressional earmarked funds - also pump money into the programs:
“In both Fiscal Years 2004 and 2005, Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) earmarked over $3 million in federal funds for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in his home state of Pennsylvania. Conservative organizations such as the Abstinence Clearinghouse and the Medical Institute (formerly known as the Medical Institute for Sexual Health), have also received funds specially earmarked by Congress. Increasingly, abstinence-only-until-marriage providers are also receiving funds through traditional HIV/AIDS and STD prevention accounts such as those administered by HHS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).”
 
Community-Based Abstinence Education and ACF
In FY 2005 ACF began administering the Community-Based Abstinence Education programs (originally known as Special Projects of Regional and National Significance–Community-Based Abstinence Education, now referred to as CBAE), under which federal funding bypasses state approval and is awarded directly to community-based organizations. CBAE-funded programs are required to teach all eight points in the federal “abstinence education” definition. Critics logically fear that the more restrictive standards are an attempt by conservative lawmakers to control the flow of funds to programs that adhere to a more ideologically driven agenda.
 
More Information
Some Abstinence Programs Mislead Teens, Report Says (by Ceci Connolly, Washington Post)
The Abstinence Gluttons (by Michael Reynolds, The Nation)
 
Marriage Promotion

Government Watchdog Says States and Feds Fall Short on Abstinence: The Roundtable on Religion and Social Welfare Policy

(by Anne Farris, Roundtable on Religion and Social Welfare Policy)

 

more
Former Directors:

Wade Horn
Before joining the ACF as Secretary in July 2001, Wade Horn founded and ran the conservative National Fatherhood Initiative in 1994 with funding from the Religious Right. At ACF he oversaw a mélange of programs highly palatable to the religious right and social conservatives - most notably abstinence-only education (he extended chastity strategy to adults) but also harmful and discriminatory welfare reform and the promotion of (exclusively heterosexual) marriage and traditional values as a means/in place of social and economic development - even suggesting that Headstart should be limited to children of married couples. He awarded his organization, the National Fatherhood Initiative, with a “capacities-building” grant of just under a million dollars from a program he started in the HHS, the Responsible Fatherhood Initiative. Horu left ACF in April 2007.
 
The Abstinence Gluttons (by Michael Reynolds, The Nation)
Wade's Horn of plenty (by Bill Berkowitz, Smirking Chimp)
Hand That Feeds (by Cyn Cooper, Talk to Action Blog)

 

more

Comments

Mark Winlow 1 year ago
don't know that end of the state well, but you and your husband need to join dads of tennessee on facebook and provide this information. several good people including loving mothers might be able to help or make suggestions. they helped me find an attorney in oak ridge.
Tammy Cook 2 years ago
to whom can help, we live in tipton county, tn., my husband has back child support do to past issues with his ex-wife, but he knows he needs to pay it. judge martha brasfield, has done nothing but treat him unjust, has created deprevation of character, discrimination and emotional distress for our family. and is making it unrealistic in paying it back. it was 65,000.00, then they added 12% to it and compounded it and raised it to 106,000.00, he has paid in up to 30,000.00 and has...

Leave a comment

captcha

Founded: 1991
Annual Budget: $45.6 million (2009)
Employees: 1,800
Official Website: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/
Administration for Children and Families
Sheldon, George
Acting Assistant Secretary

George H. Sheldon is the Acting Assistant Secretary for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. ACF oversees and finances social and economic programs for vulnerable children and families. Starting May 16, 2011, he served as Senior Advisor to David Hansell until his departure on June 17, when Sheldon became Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary and Acting Assistant Secretary at ACF.

 
Born in June 1947 in Wildwood, New Jersey, at age seven Sheldon moved to Plant City, Florida, and grew up there. He attended American University and Florida Southern College before earning his B.A. at Florida State University in 1969; he later earned a J.D. from Florida State in 1978.
 
Sheldon began his career in 1967 with the Florida Department of State and then became an aide to Democratic State Senator Reubin Askew. When Askew was elected Governor in 1970, Sheldon helped organize the new administration by running the transition office, and later served as assistant to the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services (the forerunner of today’s Department of Children and Families (DCF)) while attending law school.
 
In the early 1970s, Sheldon established in Tampa what became a model drug abuse prevention and treatment program. As executive director in 1971, Sheldon increased by over 400% the services provided by the Hillsborough Association for Retarded Citizens, managing a staff of close to one hundred. From 1975 to 1983, Sheldon served in the Florida House of Representatives as a Democrat, where his key legislative accomplishments included the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1976, which he wrote, and the Community Care for the Elderly Act of 1976, which he co-sponsored.
 
After an unsuccessful 1984 campaign for Congress, Sheldon went back to private law practice, joining the law firm of Levine, Freedman, Hirsch and Levinson in Tampa. In 1987 he established a consulting firm, Sheldon, Cusick and Associates, and successfully lobbied for initial funding of $52 million for computers in the classroom and for increased funding in subsequent years.
 
Sheldon returned to public service in 1999, serving as Deputy Attorney General for Central Florida under Attorney General Bob Butterworth, the same man he would later succeed at DCF. After the 2002 elections, in which Sheldon ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic primary for Florida Attorney General and Republican Jeb Bush was elected Governor, Sheldon left government. From August 2003 to January 2007, he was Associate Dean for Student and Alumni Services at St. Thomas University School of Law in Miami.
 
Sheldon began his tenure with DCF in February 2007, serving as assistant secretary for operations until August 2008, and then as Secretary of DCF until May 2011. He was appointed to both posts by Governor Charlie Crist, a moderate Republican against whom in 2000 Sheldon had run unsuccessfully for state education commissioner. In a harsh campaign, Crist briefly ran a TV spot attacking Sheldon for a 1984 DUI arrest and his earlier support of a bill to keep first-time marijuana offenders out of jail. Crist quickly pulled the ad, however, which coincided with the surfacing of George W. Bush’s 1976 DUI in Maine.
 
During his time at DCF, Sheldon opposed Florida’s legislative ban on gay adoption, which was overturned in 2010. The agency saw a 36% reduction in children in out-of-home care, and Florida achieved the nation’s highest rate of adoptions among foster children for two years.
 
A lifelong Democrat, Sheldon has contributed $10,339 to Democratic candidates and causes since 1990, including $500 to the Democratic National Committee, $1,000 to Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, $1,500 to Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign, $1,000 to Robert Wexler’s 1996 Congressional campaign, and $1,500 to Bill Nelson’s successful 1996 Senate campaign.
 
George Sheldon Wins Permanent DCF Post (by Jennifer Liberto, Tampa Bay Times)
Capital Movers: George Sheldon (Sunshine State News)
A Q and A With George Sheldon (National Conference of State Legislatures)
 
 
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Hansell, David
Previous Acting Secretary

David Hansell began serving as the acting assistant secretary for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), within the Department of Health and Human Services, in July 2010. Created in 1991, ACF finances and oversees social and economic programs for vulnerable children and families, including Native Americans, people with developmental disabilities, refugees and legal aliens.

 
Hansell’s father was a lawyer who continued to practice into his 80s. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Hansell graduated from Haverford College in 1975 and earned his J.D. at Yale Law School, He was admitted to the New York bar in 1984 and worked on the staff of Michigan Democratic Senators Donald Riegle Jr. and Carl Levin. Before returning to public service, he served for many years in a range of positions at Gay Men’s Health Crisis in Manhattan, including director of legal services and deputy director for government and public affairs.
 
In 1997, he became the associate commissioner for HIV services at the New York City Department of Health, and subsequently served as associate commissioner for planning and program implementation.
 
He served as Human Resources Administration chief-of-staff to New York City’s HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA) commissioner Verna Eggleston (2002-2006). Concurrently, he was an adjunct assistant professor at the New York University Wagner School of Public Service.
 
From 2007-2009, he was commissioner of the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, which oversees support programs and economic assistance for low-income New Yorkers. He played an important role in establishing Stand Up Harlem Houses, which provide housing to homeless or drug-addicted people living with HIV/AIDS in Harlem.
 
Hansell joined the Administration for Children and Families in June 2009, serving as principal deputy assistant secretary until July 2010, when he became acting head of the agency.
 
Hansell’s partner is Rob Cimino.

 

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