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LEGISLATIVE ALERT

© Child Welfare League of America. The content of these publications may not be reproduced in any way, including posting on the Internet, without the permission of CWLA. For permission to use material from CWLA's website or publications, contact us using our website assistance form.

July 30, 2004

Immediate Action Needed!

Urge Congress to make Significant Improvements to New Child Welfare Financing Bill

On July 19, I sent you a

LEGISLATIVE UDPATE

© Child Welfare League of America. The content of these publications may not be reproduced in any way, including posting on the Internet, without the permission of CWLA. For permission to use material from CWLA's website or publications, contact us using our website assistance form.

sharing with you CWLA's testimony presented to the House Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee at a hearing focused on child welfare financing reform proposals. Just a few days following that hearing, Representatives Herger (R-CA), Camp (R-MI), Cantor (R-VA), DeLay (R-TX), Johnson (R-CT), and Lewis (R-KY), introduced the Child Safety, Adoption, and Family Enhancement (Child SAFE) Act, H.R. 4856.

The proponents of the bill seek to reduce the number of children in foster care. The bill attempts to accomplish this by incorporating a version of the Bush Administration's foster care block grant proposal with some of the recommendations of the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care. As introduced, however, the bill fails to guarantee the safety and services that abused and neglected children need.

A detailed summary of the bill can be found on CWLA's website at:
www.cwla.org/advocacy/childsafeactsummary.htm.

A summary of CWLA's concerns about the bill can be found at:
www.cwla.org/advocacy/childsafeactconcerns.htm.

Your U.S. Representative needs to hear from you that the bill as introduced is unacceptable and needs to be substantially improved. Together, we can build bipartisan support for the comprehensive child welfare reforms that America's vulnerable children and families need.

ACTION REQUIRED:

  1. Call your U.S. Representative. Congress is in recess until Labor Day. You can reach your Representative in your home state at his/her District offices. To find information about how to contact your Representative through a District office, access your Representative's website at www.house.gov.

  2. Write to your U.S. Representative regarding your concerns about the Child SAFE Act, H.R. 4856, and about the improvements needed. A sample letter is available through our online letter writing system by clicking on "CWLA Kids' Advocate Online" at www.cwla.org/advocacy.

MESSAGE:

Tell your U.S. Representative that the Child SAFE Act (H.R. 4856) is UNACCEPTABLE as introduced, and needs to be substantially improved. Ask him/her to contact Representative Herger and the other sponsors of the legislation about the shortcomings of H.R. 4856.

At a minimum, H.R. 4856 should be amended to:
  1. Preserve uncapped funding for Title IV-E foster care maintenance payments. Children who need foster care must have guaranteed access to it. There are more effective ways to reduce the need for foster care than capping the federal funding available to support it.

  2. Guarantee significantly increased resources to provide a broad range of services that would reduce the need for foster care. These services should include prevention, specialized substance abuse and mental health treatment, and post-permanency services to support children and strengthen families according to their individualized needs.

  3. Expand federal support for subsidized guardianships. States should be permitted to use federal Title IV-E funds to provide subsidies for children who have been in foster care with relatives who have obtained legal guardianship and are committed to caring for the children.

  4. Guarantee necessary resources to enhance the capacity and quality of the child welfare workforce. Highly trained caseworkers, who have manageable caseloads and effective, supportive supervision, are critical to addressing the special needs of the children and families who come to the attention of the child welfare system.

  5. Strengthen the accountability of the child welfare system for achieving positive outcomes for children. There is a need for better data about what happens to children from the time they initially come into contact with the child welfare system until the time they are safely in a permanent home. More information is also needed about how federal funds are being spent for various types of services so that spending can be tied to achieving positive outcomes for children.
For more information, contact Liz Meitner, CWLA Vice President of Government Affairs, at emeitner@cwla.org or 202/942-0257.


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