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January 10, 2003
Immediate Action Needed
Urge Congress to Support $60 Million in First Time Funding for Educational and Training Vouchers for Youth and $505 Million for Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program
The new 108th Congress has just started their first session this week. One of their first tasks is to wrap up their work on the appropriations for this year's funding. As you may recall, the government has been running on temporary appropriations measures called continuing resolutions. These "CRs" have been funding programs at fiscal 2002 levels. Both the administration and last year's Senate Appropriations Committee agreed to increase funding for the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program and education and training vouchers for youth that age out of foster care. If Congress does not act this year, educational and training vouchers may not be funded and the Promoting Safe and Stable Families program funding may be reduced or held constant.
Congress must provide $60 million for education and training vouchers and $505 million for the Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) program when it makes funding decisions for FY 2003. Congress must increase funding for these critical initiatives for fiscal year 2003.
- CONTACT YOUR U.S. SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVE IN THEIR STATE AND DC OFFICES. You can reach DC offices through the Capitol switchboard at 202/224-3121.
- ENCOURAGE ORGANIZATIONS AND INDIVIDUALS IN YOUR COMMUNITY TO CONTACT CONGRESS AS WELL. Urge others you know or work with to contact Congress as well. Send a sign-on letter to Congress from children's groups and other supportive organizations in your state that expresses the importance of federal funding for educational and training support for older foster youth, and increased funding for the Promoting Safe and Stable Families program. Refer to youth in your community who would benefit from vouchers, and families who have been helped by PSSF. Request as many signatures of organizations in your community as possible. Fax or e-mail the letter and mail an original copy to both of your Senators and your Representative.
Use CWLA Kids' Advocate Online to write/e-mail your Representative and Senators with your own or a CWLA-suggested letter on these issues. Access CWLA Kids' Advocate Online at http://www.cwla.org/advocacy/kidsadvocate.htm.
- Educational and Training Vouchers for Youth Aging Out of Foster Care
Currently, there is no federal funding for educational and training vouchers for youth aging out of foster care and youth adopted from foster care at age 16 or older. The President's FY 2003 budget proposed $60 million for vouchers. Congress has not completed action on the appropriations for federal fiscal year 2003 despite the fact that the fiscal year is over 3 months old. Congress must give final approval to this first time funding before they start to debate funding for fiscal year 2004.If not it may be another year before there is an opportunity to provide this critical resource for older foster and adopted youth to get the training and educational support they need for a successful transition to adulthood.
- Each year more than 25,000 youth leave foster care each year at age 18. Studies show just 50% will have graduated high school, only 13% will go on to college or vocational training, 52% will be unemployed, and 25% will be homeless for one or more nights.
- Many of these youth lose the supports offered by the foster care system when they reach their 18th birthday or graduate from high school. Without the support of a family, youth who leave foster care are left on their own to obtain further education and employment preparation, as well as health and mental health care and housing.
- $60 million for education and training opportunities will help America's teens leaving foster care at age 18 and those adopted from foster care at age 16 or older realize their dreams by attending vocational and technical schools, state and community colleges, and four-year universities. Given the opportunity, these youth are America's next doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, plumbers, truck drivers, and electricians.
- Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program (PSSF)
The Promoting Safe and Stable Families program is one of the very few sources of federal funding that supports prevention services. PSSF helps states fund child welfare prevention services and supports vulnerable families. These funds are used by states to fund four categories of services: adoption support, family preservation, family reunification, and family support services. Currently, federal funding is $375 million. Both the President and the Senate Appropriations Committee have agreed to increase this to $505 million in FY 2003. The U.S. House of Representative took no action on appropriations last year. Increasing PSSF funding levels is especially important this year because state budgets are under great stress and many social services are being cut or eliminated.
For more information contact Tim Briceland-Betts or John Sciamanna, CWLA Senior Government Affairs Associates, at 202/638-2952 or e-mail email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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