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March 21, 2005
Action Needed--No Caps On Kids!
Congratulations! Due to your advocacy efforts, along with others in the child welfare community, the budget language directing the Senate Finance Committee to find $15 billion in cuts to entitlement programs, such as Medicaid, foster care, and adoption assistance, was stripped from the Senate's budget resolution.
This is a big victory, but much more needs to be done to ensure that funding for foster care and adoption assistance is not cut. The next step is to make sure that the final budget resolution, which both the Senate and the House must agree to, does not contain directions to make these cuts. This final budget resolution will be negotiated between the Senate and the House in early April.
- Meet with or call your U.S. Representative and Senators while they are at home between March 19 and April 3. During that time, many members of Congress conduct open meetings or town halls to hear from constituents. This is a good opportunity to call or visit them to express your concerns about a FY 2006 budget resolution that could cut funding for Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance.**
- You can also call your members of Congress in Washington, DC by calling the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-225-3121.
- Reject any budget proposal that could lead to a cap or block grant of Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance.
Both the House and the Senate passed their own versions of the FY 2006 budget resolution last week. In that process, the Senate passed an amendment that saved foster care, adoption assistance, and Medicaid from cuts. Meanwhile, the House passed their version of the budget resolution that calls for more than $30 billion in cuts to Medicaid and other human service programs.
Senators Gordon Smith (R-OR) and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) offered the Senate amendment. All Democratic Senators, seven Republicans, Senators DeWine (OH), Chafee (RI), Coleman (MN), Collins (ME), Specter (PA), Snowe (ME), Smith (OR), and one Independent, Senator Jeffords (VT) supported the amendment which passed by a 52 to 48 vote.
This Smith-Bingaman amendment stripped a provision contained in the Budget Committee-approved bill that would have required the Senate Finance Committee to pass legislation to reduce $15 billion in federal spending on entitlement programs under its jurisdiction. It was anticipated that $14 billion of the $15 billion would have been cut from the Medicaid program, although the Finance Committee could make these cuts in any of the programs under its jurisdiction including Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance.
Passing the Smith-Bingaman amendment is the first step. The next step is to ensure that the final budget resolution agreed to by both the Senate and the House does not contain the directions to make these cuts. A Senate-House conference committee will now meet to resolve any differences and the Senate and House will then vote on a final budget resolution in early April. Both the House and Senate will need to pass an identical budget resolution.
This annual budget resolution serves as a blueprint that sets limits on total federal spending. To meet the reduced federal spending targets outlined in the President's budget proposal, Congress is attempting to use this budget resolution process to issue budget reconciliation directions to various congressional committees to cut entitlement programs. Caps on Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption spending are being considered as a possible source for these savings, in addition to cuts in other critical programs such as Medicaid, nutrition, and housing. A proposal to cap Title IV-E was included in the President's FY 2006 budget proposal.
If the FY 2006 budget reconciliation process results in cuts to programs and services for children in the child welfare system, there will be no opportunity for debate of these cuts or to advocate for the passage of the significant improvements and reforms that are needed.
For more information go to CWLA's No Caps on Kids! Campaign website at www.cwla.org. or contact Liz Meitner, CWLA Vice-President of Government Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-942-0257.
**Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption assistance is currently an entitlement program, which means that it is available to anyone who meets the program's strict eligibility criteria. The federal government reimburses each state for a percentage of the overall cost of the program. A reduction, or the capping or block granting, of Title IV-E funding would reduce the federal government's commitment to share the costs of the caring for these abused and neglected children. The amount of money a state would receive from the federal government would be fixed, regardless of a state's expenses as a result of a capping or block granting of Title IV-E.
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