Murkowski Combats Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Senator Reintroduces Bill to Improve Research, Prevention, and Services

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski recently introduced S. 2060, the Advancing FASD Research, Prevention, and Services Act, a bill to provide support for individuals and their families afflicted with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). This bill would reauthorize and extend the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome prevention and services program, which provides support programs for adolescents with FASD like vocational training and mental health services, and raises public awareness and education.

Senator Murkowski announced the introduction of her bill at the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS) International Gala Thursday night.

“In Alaska, we have the highest rate of FASD in the Nation. Approximately 180 Alaskan babies are born each year affected by maternal alcohol use during pregnancy. While we’ve made great strides in Alaska combatting this problem, we need to do more,” said Senator Murkowski. “The effects of FASD—physical, mental, behavioral and/or learning disabilities—have lifelong implications but are 100 preventable. I am committed to doing all I can to put an end to FASD.”

Bill Specifics:

  • Research – directs the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop a research agenda to include the most promising avenues of research in FASD diagnosis, intervention, and prevention;
  • Surveillance, Public Health Research, and Prevention – directs NIH to conduct support activities to integrate case definitions into clinical practice, thereby improving surveillance activities, and to provide health care workers and others with resources to reduce alcohol-exposed pregnancies;
  • State FASD Systems – facilitates development of statewide FASD systems through grants to states, public, and non-profit private organizations;
  • Community Partnerships – provides federal grants to partnerships of health professionals, school systems, child welfare offices, incarceration facilities, parent organizations, Indian tribes and others to collaborate on common objectives and integrate services;
  • Best Practices – provides federal grants for pilot projects to identify and implement best practices for educating children with FASD, and educating those involved in the justice, adoption, and foster care systems;
  • Support Services – provides assistance for adolescents with FASD as they transition to adulthood including housing, vocational training and placement services, medication management, and mental health services;
  • Federally Qualified Health Centers – provides federal grants to implement and evaluate a 5-year demonstration program to increase awareness and identification of FASD in federally qualified health centers;
  • Public Awareness and Education – authorizes development and broadcast of national public service announcements to raise public awareness of the risks associated with alcohol consumption during pregnancy;
  • National Task Force on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders – renames and reauthorizes the Task Force;
  • Coordination Among Federal Entities – provides statutory authority for the Interagency Coordinating Committee on FAS and instructs the Comptroller General of the United States to evaluate and make recommendations regarding the appropriate roles and responsibilities of federal entities;
  • Prevention, Intervention, and Services in the Education System – directs the Department of Education to conduct training in a nationwide surveillance campaign and disseminate evidence-based practices on how to effectively educate and assist children with FASD; and
  • Prevention, Intervention, and Services in the Justice System – directs the Attorney General to implement screening procedures, introduce training curricula on how to effectively identify and interact with individuals with FASD, and develop transition programs for individuals with FASD when released from incarceration.

The bill has been assigned to the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee of which Senator Murkowski is a member.

Background: Due to Senator Murkowski’s previous efforts, September 9 is National Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Day.