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June 30, 2005
Action Needed--No Caps On Kids!
Your U.S. Senators and Representative are at home during the congressional Independence Day recess. This is an important time for them to hear from you about the potential threats to federal funding for child welfare programs that are being considered as part of the upcoming budget reconciliation legislation. Join advocates from across the country, in a unified voice, as we proclaim "No Caps on Kids!"
The threat to children and children's programs is great:
- Various congressional committees are set to pass legislation cutting $35 billion from mandatory or entitlement spending by September.
- As Congress considers these cuts, federal funding for Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance could be capped in a block grant option.**
- Medicaid is slated to be cut by $10 billion, with restrictions placed on its use providing services for children in the child welfare system.
- An additional $70 billion will be lost from federal revenue as tax cuts are also set to be adopted by September.
Meet with or call your U.S. Senators and Representative while they are at home between July 3 and July 10. The Independence Day holiday means that many members of Congress will conduct selected town hall or open meetings to gain feedback from constituents. This is an ideal opportunity to call or visit your members of Congress to express your concerns about decisions that could cap federal funding for Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance and reduce federal spending for Medicaid and many other programs vital to the safety of our children.
You can also contact your U.S. Senators or Representative in Washington, DC by calling the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-225-3121.
- Reject any proposal that could lead to a cap or block grant of Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance.
- Support a real reform of the child welfare system that provides more funding for prevention and support services while fully funding key programs, including adoption assistance and foster care.
- Reject any proposal that would restrict the use of Medicaid for children in the child welfare system or lower the federal matching rate for Medicaid services.
For more information, visit CWLA's No Caps on Kids! Campaign website or contact Liz Meitner, CWLA Vice President of Government Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-942-0257.
- In May, Congress passed a budget resolution that included instructions that direct relevant congressional committees of the House and Senate to pass "reconciliation" legislation to reduce federal spending for entitlement programs by $35 billion. The House and Senate committees are instructed to pass legislation to achieve these entitlement cuts by September 16. A week later, on September 23, House and Senate committees are instructed to find $70 billion in tax cuts.
- $10 billion of the entitlement cuts must come from programs under the jurisdiction of the Senate Finance Committee. While the budget resolution assumes that most of these cuts will come from the Medicaid program, the Finance Committee makes the final decision about which programs to cut. The Finance Committee has jurisdiction over many child welfare funded programs, including Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance, SSBG, and TANF. In the House, it is up to the House Ways and Means Committee to decide how to make the $10 billion in cuts in Medicaid. Additionally, the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance, SSBG, and TANF, also has directions to make cuts.
- Capping federal foster care funding will put children's well-being at risk. If federal foster care funding is capped or states take a block grant, a state cannot draw on greater federal funding for foster care services when the demand increases due to circumstances beyond their control, e.g. the methamphetamine crisis. Allowing states to take a block grant may seem harmless, however, states making this choice may face decisions such as reducing foster care payments to foster parents, decreasing the per diem paid to private providers caring for these children, or changing policies that prevent abuse resulting in more abused or neglected children placed in foster care. Further, if this proposal is intended to serve as the major reform to child welfare financing that is truly needed, it falls far short of addressing the deficiencies documented in the Child and Family Service Reviews.
- When Congress enacts cuts to the Medicaid program they will give serious consideration to the White House budget proposals that would reduce federal spending for Medicaid by restricting the use of Medicaid Targeted Case Management (TCM) to provide services to children in the child welfare system and reduce the level of federal funding for these services to 50%. Currently the federal matching rate for TCM is as high as 80% in many states. TCM is a powerful tool used to ensure that children's needs are assessed, a care plan is developed, referrals are made to needed services, and care plans are monitored and services are delivered.
- Adding to the tighter fiscal constraints is the $106 billion called for in additional tax cuts. Of this total, $70 billion will be included as a second reconciliation bill. Committees with jurisdiction over tax issues would have to pass legislation to implement these cuts by September 23.
** 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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