Congressional Research Service Publishes Overview and Issues

This is an excellent summary of Peace Corps today.  The RPCV community is discussing the  current status of the Peace Corps and its future. This  is a good review of  Peace Corps today by the reputable Congressional Research Service.  Here is the Introduction and the link to the complete report:

“The Peace Corps: Overview and Issues

Updated February 25, 2021

Founded in 1961, the Peace Corps pursues a legislative mandate of promoting world peace and friendship by sending American volunteers to serve at the grassroots level in all corners of the world. In September 2019, there were 7,334 volunteers serving in 61 nations.

In March 2020, all volunteers were evacuated and programs suspended as a result of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Data in this report reflect status of the Peace Corps volunteer force prior to its March 2020 evacuation. The agency has announced plans to restart programs in 2021.

More than 95% of volunteers serve through its traditional program, which includes three months of technical and language training followed by two years of service. The much smaller Peace Corps Response program sends experienced volunteers on short-term, high-impact assignments overseas. Volunteers support host communities in every region of the world, with assistance programs in agriculture, economic development, youth development, health (particularly HIV/AIDS programming), and education. Of its volunteers, 41% work in education, the largest programmatic sector, and 45% serve in sub-Saharan Africa, the largest region.

Peace Corps volunteers come from every U.S. state, and many public universities and colleges have close recruiting relationships with Peace Corps, generating consistent interest among Members of Congress in supporting constituents and their family members serving abroad. For instance, many Members maintain an active interest in ensuring that the Peace Corps supports volunteers through adequate safety protocols, quality medical care, robust training, and high-impact programming. As the Peace Corps is an agency of both international development and public diplomacy, some Members also seek to strengthen the agency’s efforts to improve both the condition of poor communities overseas and other nations’ perceptions of the United States.

Congress addresses Peace Corps funding and policy in annual appropriations legislation and, less frequently, revises the statutory provisions of the Peace Corps Act of 1961 (P.L. 83-293) through reform legislation. Particular attention has been directed at volunteer health and safety in recent years. The Sam Farr and Nick Castle Peace Corps Reform Act of 2018 (the Farr-Castle Act, P.L. 115-256), signed into law on October 9, 2018, is the most recently enacted major revision. The Farr- Castle Act established provisions designed to improve volunteer medical care, both at post and after service; extend the allowable period of service for certain Peace Corps staff positions; establish the frequency, scope, and reporting requirements for impact surveys of volunteers; and improve advocacy for volunteers who are the victims of crimes, among other matters.

The 117th Congress may consider proposed Peace Corps funding as part of the FY2022 State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs appropriations process, and may conduct oversight of reentry of volunteers throughout 2021. Congress may also monitor the implementation of the Farr-Castle Act, including progress as new policies and reporting lines are established for Peace Corps medical care. Congress may also work with Peace Corps during its annual portfolio review to ensure that volunteer health and safety is taken into account in decisionmaking, as well as to assess closure and opening of country programs as applicable.

Several other issues may be of interest to Congress. Volunteer levels have declined in recent years from their peak of 9,095 in 2011, and the number of country programs has fallen from 69 in 2011 to 61 in 2020. Peace Corps has not achieved its statutory mandate of a 10,000-volunteer force since that goal was established. Volunteers also express dissatisfaction at the quality of training and their work responsibilities in annual surveys. Other Peace Corps issues that may be of interest to Congress include the geographic composition of Peace Corps programs, volunteer access to abortion, activities for returned volunteers, volunteer benefits, Peace Corps partnerships, and staffing practices of Peace Corps.

Congressional Research Service



February 25, 2021

Nick M. Brown

Analyst in Foreign Assistance and Foreign Policy”



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