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May 13, 2002
House to Vote on Welfare and Child Care
On Wednesday, May 15, the U.S. House of Representatives will debate and vote on the reauthorization of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, the Child Care and Development Fund, and abstinence education. The legislation, H.R. 4700, incorporates President Bush's welfare reform proposals that require increased work requirements for single mothers to 40 hours per week, reduces state flexibility to provide education and training, freezes TANF funding for the next 5 years, and allow states to drop the child care quality set asides and market rate requirements. It offers a small child care increase of only 4% next year with no additional funds guaranteed for the following four years.
ACTION REQUIRED: Call your U.S. Representative. Ask your Representative to support Represenative Cardin's (D-MD) substitute to H.R. 4700. You can reach all House offices through the Capitol switchboard at 202/224-3121.
The House will be voting on H.R. 4700, a bill that combines the TANF, child care, and abstinence education reauthorization proposals that had been approved by the Ways and Means (H.R. 4090), Education and Workforce (H.R. 4092), and Energy and Commerce Committees (H.R. 4122).
H.R. 4700 increases work requirements for single mothers to 40 hours per week, reduces state flexibility to provide education and training, but offers no new resources to assist families that are working and still in poverty. The bill allows substance abuse counseling or treatment to be considered a qualified work activity, but for no more than three months in any consecutive 24 month period.
H.R. 4700 also includes language that proposes, but does not guarantee, increases in child care funding over the five years. The bill guarantees a $200 million increase only for FY 2003. The remaining increases of $200 million a year through FY 2007 are discretionary-subject to annual Congressional approval. Future child care increases will have to compete for scarce dollars against other key child welfare programs, including the Promoting Safe and Stable Families program, Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, and the Child Welfare Services program.
Ask your Representative to support the substitute to H.R. 4700 that will be offered by Representative Cardin (D-MD). The substitute:
Summaries of H.R. 4090 and H.R. 4092 as approved by the Committees are available on CWLA's website. (H.R. 4090 summaries: http://www.cwla.org/advocacy/tanf.htm and H.R. 4092 summaries: http://www.cwla.org/advocacy/childcare.htm) CWLA President and CEO Shay Bilchik testified before the House Ways and Means Committee's Human Resources Subcommittee on April 11. This testimony is also available online at www.cwla.org/advocacy/tanf020411.htm.
- Increases TANF funding by the rate of inflation over the next five years. Funding for TANF has remained flat since 1996. Without an increase, it will lose 22% of its value by FY 2007. Even though caseloads have declined, TANF inadequately funds the services necessary to help support low-income families making the transition to self-sufficiency.
- Increases funding for child care by no less than $11.2 billion. Regardless of whether work requirements are increased in TANF, child care funding needs to be increased to provide more child care services to more families while also improving the quality of those services. Currently, less than 1 in 7 of eligible children receive child care assistance.
- Increases funding for the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) to $2.8 billion, the level agreed to in 1996. SSBG is a significant source of federal funds for adoption, foster care, and child protection services.
- Recognizes that substance abuse is a barrier to employment and provides up to six months of substance abuse treatment services as work activity for TANF recipients.
- Continues to give states flexibility to target services and provide education and training to mothers. TANF recipients will continue to be obligated to adhere to the current work requirements of 30 hours per week.
- Rejects the broad authority contained in H.R. 4700 that allows the Secretaries of the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, Education, Housing, and Agriculture to waive any rules for programs such as child care, food stamps, public housing,and TANF. This "super-waiver authority" could shift federal funding and effectively lead to block grants for many programs. Under this proposal, states could request waivers to reduce payments to child care providers by no longer using a market-based rate and child care quality set-asides could be eliminated. This new authority could also undermine the protections in current law for children and families in many programs with little opportunity for input or oversight. These protections should not be waived.
For more information, call CWLA Government Affairs at 202/942-0278 or contact Liz Meitner, Vice President of Government Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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