YMCA of the USA and the Iowa Alliance of YMCAs presented Sen. Chuck Grassley, co-founder and co-chairman of the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth, with its “YMCA Congressional Champion” award for his “commitment to the development of youth” and “being a Champion to the YMCA.”
“Working to improve the lives of young people is one of the greatest honors I’ve had serving as Iowa’s United States Senator,” Grassley said. “I particularly enjoy holding Q&As with Iowa middle and high school students during my 99 county meetings. Hearing what’s on the minds of young people is important for me to be able to do my job of representing Iowa’s future. Passing legislation to reform the nation’s juvenile justice system, which far too often fails our young people, and legislation to strengthen the nation’s foster youth system, remain priorities this Congress.”
There are 2,700 YMCAs across the country and the organization engages 9 million youth and 13 million adults annually. According to the YMCA, “The Y is a leading nonprofit organization for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.”
“Y-USA is pleased to honor Senator Chuck Grassley for his dedicated leadership on the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act and his support of YMCA priority issues through the Senate Judiciary, Finance, Budget and Agriculture committees,” said Carol Hibbs of Marshalltown on behalf of the Iowa Alliance of YMCAs and the YMCA of the USA.
Grassley introduced the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 2015 to ensure that at-risk youth are fairly and effectively served by juvenile justice grant programs. The bipartisan legislation unanimously cleared the Judiciary Committee. The bill calls for a phase-out of the shackling of pregnant girls in detention and addresses concerns uncovered in a Grassley investigation about how the Justice Department has been mismanaging for 18 years federal grants that are supposed to support at-risk youth and those who encounter the juvenile justice program. The bill is designed to increase accountability for fraud and compliance failures by states. Grassley has said the legislation will be reintroduced this Congress.
Grassley was an original co-sponsor of the Family First Prevention Services Act. It includes an emphasis on preventive services, which Grassley has advocated to keep children with their parents, reduce trauma, and strengthen families. The bill includes Grassley’s legislation to expand the Chafee Independence program to allow states to cover kids in foster care up to the age of 23. The comprehensive measure includes the reauthorization of grants started and extended by Grassley to help children who are in foster care or at risk of such placement because of parental abuse of methamphetamine or another substance. The measure ensures that opioid abuse is also a key focus of the grants given to child welfare agencies to promote services to children and families under the measure.
Grassley was an original co-sponsor of the bipartisan Medicare Diabetes Prevention Act of 2015, which would help make sure Medicare addresses diabetes prevention rather than simply management of the disease. The bill includes authorizing expanded enrollment in preventive programs such as those run by the YMCA and other organizations as part of the National Diabetes Prevention Program. Last year, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced successful results in an initial program to enroll Medicare beneficiaries in a diabetes prevention program run by the YMCA.