American Psychological Association FY 2009 Congressional Appropriations Request: Restore Funding for the Graduate Psychology Education Program Geropsychology Training Grants

Request

Provide an additional $1.5 million in the FY 2009 Labor, HHS, and Education Appropriations bill for the Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) Program within the "Allied Health and Other Disciplines" budget activity of the Health Resources and Services Administration for geropschology training.

Background

The Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) Program is the nation's only federal program dedicated solely to the education and training of psychologists. The activity is authorized by the Public Health Service Act [P.L. 105-392 Section 755 (b)(1)(J)] and funded under the "Allied Health and Other Disciplines" account in the Labor-HHS Appropriations Bill. Without the GPE Program, the nation will lose its critical mechanism for preparing psychologists with other health professionals to provide integrated health care services relevant to underserved populations, and the ability to promote the delivery of these services in underserved areas now and in the future.

The GPE program is a competitive grant activity operated by the Health Resources and Services Administration in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Currently it supports training grants at 20 academic institutions and training sites (e.g., Children's and VA hospitals) around the country.

Purpose

Established six years ago, GPE provides grants to accredited psychology doctoral, internship and postdoctoral training programs. An exemplary "two-for-one" federal program, GPE supports the interdisciplinary training of psychology graduate students while they provide supervised mental and behavioral health services to underserved populations, such as older adults, children, the chronically ill, and victims of abuse and trauma, including returning military personnel and their families, especially in rural and urban communities. Prior to recent budget cuts, one major program component had been devoted to geropsychology – the area of practice focusing on needs of the elderly. In FY 2003 there was an additional $1.5 million set aside for geropsychology training; seven grants were awarded for only one three year cycle.

Outcome data show that GPE grants are making a significant difference to underserved communities. Since the program's inception, the rate of psychology students remaining to practice in underserved areas has increased dramatically. It has risen from 27% in 2001, the year prior to the beginning of the GPE Program, to 39% in 2004. By 2004 (the 3rd year), GPE grants benefited approximately 1,500 students across the country.

Funding History

The GPE Program received $2.0 million in FY 2002, then $4.5 million in FY 2003, FY 2004 and FY 2005, $1.8 million in FY 2006, FY 2007, and FY 2008 as funding for Health Professions programs declined. In FY 2006, the reduction forced HRSA to eliminate funding for all seven geropsychology training grants and cut funding for the remaining twenty grants by 44 percent. Currently there are 18 general grants but none dedicated to geropsychology training. Providing $1.5 million in FY 2009 will restore funding to allow for 7-10 geropsychology grants.