General Info
Braley "Plain Language" Law Provisions Go Into Effect PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Alexandra Krasov   
Monday, 18 July 2011 13:20

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Bruce Braley (IA-01) announced that several provisions of his Plain Writing Act of 2010 are going into effect.

Today is the deadline for agencies to designate a Senior Official for Plain Writing. This individual will be responsible for overseeing each agency’s implementation of Braley’s law, including:

·         creating a plain writing section of the agency website;

·         training agency employees;

·         ensuring full implementation of the law; and

·         publishing a public report on progress towards meeting the plain writing requirements.

"The Plain Writing Act requires some simple changes to business-as-usual that’ll make a big difference for anyone who’s ever filled out a tax return or received a government document," Rep. Braley said.  "Today, some of those changes go into effect and begin the process of making our government agencies moreaccessible. In the long run, writing government documents in plain languagewill increase government accountability and will save Americans time and money."

The Plain Writing Act, authored by Rep. Braley, requires the federal government to write documents, such as tax returns, federal college aid applications, and Veterans Administration forms in simple easy-to-understand language, making government more transparent and saving the government millions of dollars. President Obama signed Rep. Braley’s bill into law last October.

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Violence Against Women Act, Keeping waste and fraud out of the program and ensuring funds help victims PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 18 July 2011 13:11

Prepared Statement of Ranking Member Chuck Grassley of Iowa

U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary

Hearing on “The Violence Against Women Act: Building on Seventeen Years of Accomplishments”

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding today’s hearing on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).  This is an important law that has helped countless numbers of victims across the country break the cycle of domestic violence and move on to productive lives.  The law created vital programs that support efforts to help victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.  Further, the law provides resources across the country to victim advocates, attorneys, counselors, law enforcement personnel, prosecutors, health care providers, emergency shelters, and many other services to help victims. 

As an original cosponsor of the Senate version of the reauthorization, I remain deeply committed to ensuring federal resources are provided to programs to prevent and end sexual assault and domestic violence.  There is, however, an unfortunate reality that we must face.  We live in dramatically different times today than we did in 2000 or 2005 when VAWA was previously reauthorized.   

Today, more than 14 million Americans are unemployed.  That’s a 9.2 percent unemployment rate.  The unemployment numbers get worse each month and the national deficit keeps growing and growing.  The federal government must drastically reduce its spending and bring the fiscal house in order.  During these difficult economic times, we simply can’t continue to allocate resources without verifying that the resources are being used as effectively and efficiently as possible.  Now, that doesn’t mean we do away with VAWA as a program.  Instead, it means that as we in this committee look to reauthorize this program, we need to take a hard look at every single taxpayer dollar expended, determine how those dollars are being used, and determine if the stated purpose of the program is being met.  The American taxpayers expect us to do this with every law and this hearing affords us that opportunity.

I have long advocated for reviewing grant management at the Department of Justice and determining if programs are meeting their expectations and complying with the law.  Back in 2001, Senator Sessions and I requested the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review all VAWA grant files at the Justice Department.  That review found that VAWA files often lacked the documentation necessary to ensure that the required monitoring activities occurred.  GAO found that a “substantial number of [VAWA] grant files did not contain progress and financial reports sufficient to cover the entire grant period.”  Ultimately, GAO concluded in the 2001 review that “because documentation about monitoring activities was not readily available, [DOJ] was not positioned to systematically determine staff compliance with monitoring requirements and assess overall performance.”  These are significant problems and unfortunately, it appears that they continue to persist a decade later.

A review of individual VAWA grantee audits that were conducted from 1998-2010 by the Department of Justice Inspector General indicates that the problem with VAWA grantees’ administration and record keeping may actually be getting worse.  During this timeframe, the Inspector General conducted a review of 22 individual grantees that received funding from VAWA programs.  Of those 22 grantees, 21 were found to have some form of violation of grant requirements ranging from unauthorized and unallowable expenditures, to sloppy record keeping and failure to report in a timely manner.  Some of these audits are downright appalling.  In 2010, one grantee was found by the Inspector General to have questionable costs for 93 percent of the nearly $900,000 they received from the Justice Department.  Another audit, this one from 2009, found that nearly $500,000 of a $680,000 grant was questioned because of inadequate support for expenditures.  Another audit in 2005 questioned $1.2 million out of a $1.9 million grant.  The list goes on and on for pages.  Simply put, in today’s economic environment, we cannot tolerate this level of malfeasance in federal grant programs.  There are too many victims out there that do not have access to necessary services for the Justice Department to continue to provide funding to entities that play fast and loose with taxpayer dollars.

So, how do we fix this problem?  To start, we need a legitimate, rigorous evaluation of the VAWA program to ensure that these sorts of grantees are prohibited from getting funds.  That can be done by building effective anti-fraud measures into the legislation, such as debarring poor and underperforming grantees.  It also means requiring annual audits and evaluations of program grantees.  Unfortunately, as our witness from GAO will point out today, it is difficult to evaluate VAWA grantee performance because the data that is provided to Justice Department by grantees is often difficult to evaluate given varying definitions among different programs. GAO also notes that “information gaps” exist because the various authorizing statutes for different grants for victim’s services have different purposes.  Finally, GAO notes that the various grants administered by both the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice use varying data collection practices making uniformity of data difficult.  Taken together, GAO notes that while the agencies are making progress to address the gaps in data, these important issues need to be addressed by Congress as we consider reauthorizing VAWA.  Given the difficult financial situation that our nation faces, it is imperative that any reauthorization of VAWA include, at a minimum, new studies to determine how effective VAWA programs are, whether grantees are providing adequate services for the amount of funding they receive, and how we root out and cut down on fraud and abuse by VAWA grantees.  This grant program accountability will help to ensure that services really go to those in need.

Another issue that must be addressed during the reauthorization process is immigration marriage fraud.  Specifically, I’m concerned about the reports that some of the procedures employed by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services actually help to facilitate immigration marriage fraud, and some of it is further enhanced by provisions under VAWA. 

I’m glad we have a witness here today to tell her story about how provisions of VAWA were manipulated by her ex-husband to facilitate his access to a green card. As a past cosponsor of VAWA reauthorizations, I’m saddened to hear this example of how a law designed to help victims, may be used to continue to abuse victims of domestic violence.  

These are important issues that should be addressed as part of any reauthorization.  We are well past the time where we can continue to reauthorize programs without giving them the scrutiny needed to ensure that the population we are trying to help, here victims of domestic violence, are getting the services they need.  We also have a duty to ensure that those programs are actually working, are not subject to fraud, waste, or abuse, and that victims are not harmed by the programs themselves.  

We must do everything in our power to help victims of abuse and domestic violence.  At the same time, we face a new challenge of making sure we get it right and simply don’t write another check on the taxpayer’s dime without ensuring the program is meeting its goals. 

I look forward to hearing the testimony from the witnesses and working with members of the Judiciary Committee on finding the right approach.

Thank you. 

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Divorce and Children PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Joy Venhorst   
Monday, 18 July 2011 13:07

Children’s Adjustment
Divorce and events related to divorce, including mari­tal conflict and separation, are almost always very stress­ful events in the life of a child. In the months after the separation, most children will show signs of one or more of the following: anxiety, sadness, anger, aggression, un­cooperative behavior, not sleeping well, and disrupted concentration at school. The length of this initial period of distress varies from child to child. For most children, the distress is short-term, and they learn to adapt with reasonable success.

What Parents Can Do
Whatever the family structure, children will still need a loving, nurturing, stable, economically secure environ­ment for their optimal growth and development. The fol­lowing are ways parents can provide this environment.

Decrease Conflict
Because conflict between parents after divorce makes adjustment more difficult for children, work on ways to decrease conflict and keep children out of it. Children need custody and access arrangements that minimize the potential for ongoing conflict between parents.

Provide a Good Relationship
A good parent–child relationship is the best predictor of good outcomes in children. If you are the parent who has moved out, make sure to stay in consistent contact with your children. You do not always have to plan fun activities when you are with your children—just spending time with them can be enough.

Provide Stability
Providing routines and consistency for children helps them feel more secure. If they have to go through a lot of changes, such as a new home or school, try to establish new routines quickly.

Be Loving
Let your children know that you love them. Their reac­tions to divorce may lead to changes in behavior or mis­behavior. They need to know that you still love them, even though you may not approve of their behavior. Preschool­ers may blame themselves for the divorce. For example, they may think, “Daddy left because I was bad.”

Take Time to Talk
Children need to know that their feelings and concerns are taken seriously. Parents need to let children express how they are feeling and what is going on in their thoughts. Lis­ten without cutting them off with statements like, “Don’t feel sad,” or, “You shouldn’t be mad.” Acknowledge their feelings and discuss appropriate ways to deal with them.

Contact:
J. Eileene Welker and Sarah Michelle Moore, Ohio State University, phone: 800-589-8292
Or Kara Newby, Ohio State University Extension phone: (614) 688-0855

 
2011 Stitch This! Teams Named PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Joy Venhorst   
Monday, 18 July 2011 13:01

2011 Stitch This! Teams Named

AMES, Iowa – Teams for the 2011 Stitch This! 4-H Design Challenge at the Iowa State Fair have been chosen. Nine teams of Iowa teens will tear up and recreate garments that capture the theme, “America the Beautiful.”

Each team consists of three or four youth, and at least one member must be in 4-H. The competition begins Friday, Aug. 19 and ends Saturday, Aug. 20 with a fashion show on the 4-H Exhibits Building’s main stage that will showcase the teams’ designs. Teams are judged upon creativity, concept, teamwork, workmanship and presentation.

“I just love to see Iowa youth pushing themselves out of their comfort zones and showing creativity and skills,” said Karen Frank, Stitch This supervisor. “The participants work so hard and really exemplify what teamwork is all about.”

Stacey’s Prom and Formalwear is donating more than 100 prom dresses to the Stitch This challenge. Each team must select at least three donated dresses to use as material for creating a completely new garment.

The dresses created in the competition will be featured at Stacey’s Prom and Formalwear in Urbandale for at least a month after the event. The winning team’s design will be professionally prototyped, mass produced and made available in 65 stores nationwide as part of Stacey’s Prom and Formalwear 2012 prom line. A portion of the proceeds from sales of the dress will benefit the Iowa State University Extension 4-H Youth Development clothing project area.

2011 Stitch This! Teams

Iowa high school youth who completed grades 9, 10, 11 or 12 were eligible to apply for the competition. The following teams will participate in Stitch This at the Iowa State Fair.

The Curvie Collection: Allison Lansman, Breanna Anderson, Tristin Nelson and Sarah Rethwisch, Webster County

Sequin Sisters: Tayler Veldhuizen, Lydia Sharp, Kenley Rogers and Lauren Schossow, Polk County

Sew Fashionable: Yesenia Vargas, Yessica Iraheta, Emalie Cipale and Destiny Murphy, Polk County

FashionEASTas: Brenda Baccam, Ona Luong, Choua Thao and Dacey Nguyen, Polk County

Entredeux Amie: Shelby VanSteenwyk, Rachel Morgan, Jocelyn Beaver and Carrie Adrian, Marion County

Attraente Unicornio: Jose Lupercio, Stephenie Gabriel, Nyacudaer Yor and Dehann Ashley,Polk County

The Stitch Girls: Tirzah Beam, Elizabeth Veldboom, Liz Meyerholz and Michelle Buboltz, Pottawattamie, Iowa and Cass counties

Three Corners Design Team: Kellie O’Byrne, Eleya Raim and Jordan Hullinger, Plymouth, Johnson and Decatur counties

The Four Stitches: Tyra Watson, Morgan Heim, Bobbi Jo Wild, Patricia Townsend, Van Buren and Allamakee counties

Sponsor a Stitch This! Team

It costs $200 to support a Stitch This team, Frank said. Sponsorship helps coordinators provide upkeep for the sewing equipment, print marketing and promotional materials and purchase supplies, admission tickets and t-shirts for participants and volunteers.

For more information, contact Kenzie Besch at kbesch@iastate.eduor Karen Frank at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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ISU Extension Answer Line PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Joy Venhorst   
Monday, 18 July 2011 12:11

Sometimes having a question is the easy part, but finding someone who can answer your question can be the hard part. ISU Scott County Extension has a solution to your problem. Iowa State University Extension Answer Line provides information and resources to help Iowa consumers make decisions that improve your lives. As part of the College of Human Sciences at ISU, we take the work that is done on campus and brings it to all Iowans, as well as working with many other organizations and agencies to meet your needs.

Professional consumer and family scientists answer questions about care of the elderly, child care & development, buying decisions, cleaning, connecting families with their communities, consumer management, family money management, finding community resources, food preparation, food preservation, food safety, home environment, housing, household equipment, nutrition, parenting, textiles and laundry. The Answer Line has been answering consumers’ questions for more than 30 years.

Call toll-free Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.- Noon and 1 – 4 p.m.

1-800-262-3804 (in Iowa)

1-800-735-2942 (Relay Iowa phone linkage for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals)

E-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Or visit the website at www.extension.iastate.edu/answerline

Additional helpful Hotline Numbers:

Beginning Farmer Center (877)-232-1999

Monday - Friday 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Resources to help the next generation of farmers

www.extension.iastate.edu/bfc

Healthy Families (800)-369-2229

Available all hours, all days

Prenatal, child health, and women’s health care questions and information

Iowa Concern (800)-447-1985

Available all hours, all days

Financial questions, legal issues, family transitions

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

www.extension.iastate.edu/iowaconcern

Teen Line (800)-443-8336

Available all hours, all days

Personal and health-related information and referral

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Bets Off (800)-BETSOFF or (800)238-7633

Available all hours, all days

Bets Off is the hotline of the Iowa Gambling Treatment program.

Gambling concerns for yourself or others.

www.1800betsoff.org 

Hort Line (515)294-3108

Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. – Noon, 1 – 4:30 p.m.

Lawn, garden, and landscape plant questions.

www.YardandGarden.extension.iastate.edu

Pork Line (800)808-7675 Iowa only

Monday – Friday 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Swine production, management, marketing.

www.ipic.iastate.edu

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