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July 29, 2005
Action Needed--No Caps On Kids!
Right now, congressional committees are working out plans to reduce federal spending for entitlement programs. The budget resolution passed by Congress earlier this year required that proposals to cut $35 billion be compiled by September 16.
When members of Congress return to Washington after Labor Day, they will quickly finalize these budget decisions that could impact federal support for foster care and Medicaid for children in the child welfare system. While Congress does not have to reduce federal supports for abused and neglected children (including Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance** and Medicaid) in order to reach this budget cutting goal, these programs are threatened unless Congress hears from constituents that such cuts are unacceptable.
August is an important time for your elected officials to hear from you about their upcoming budget decisions. Your U.S. Senators and Representative will be in their home states for the month of August. This is an ideal opportunity to express your concerns about decisions that could cap federal funding for Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance and reduce federal Medicaid support for children in the child welfare system.
Join advocates from across the country in a unified voice as we proclaim, "No Caps on Kids!" Meet with or call your U.S. Senators and Representative while they are at home between August 1 and September 5. Some members of Congress will also conduct selected town hall or open meetings to gain feedback from constituents. This is also a great time to invite your Senators, Representative, or their staff to your agency.
You can also contact your U.S. Senators or Representative in DC by calling the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-225-3121.
- Support abused and neglected children by rejecting budget proposals that:
- Cap or block grant Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance.
- Restrict the use of Medicaid targeted case management and rehabilitative services for children in the child welfare system and lower the federal matching rate for Medicaid services.
- Call for a real reform of the child welfare system that provides more funding for prevention and support services while fully funding key programs, including foster care and adoption assistance.
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 programs that provide funding for child welfare services, including Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance, the Social Services Block Grant (Title XX, SSBG), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). In the House, it is up to the Energy and Commerce 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) and rehabilitative services for children in the child welfare system and reduce the level of federal funding for TCM services to the Medicaid administrative matching rate of 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.
- New data indicate that in 2001, 961,000 children enrolled in Medicaid were in foster care at some point that year. In that year, states spent nearly $4 billion in Medicaid funds on children in foster care. At least $700 million of these Medicaid funds were used to provide TCM and/or rehabilitative services. These funds are in addition to other supports such as Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance
- 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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