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December 21, 2005

Congress Cuts Foster Care!

Senate passes amended bill-last chance in the House!

The Senate today approved the final version of the budget reconciliation bill that includes nearly $600 million cuts in federal foster care assistance for abused and neglected children being cared for by grandparents and other relatives. The Senate approved the final budget bill by a fifty-one to fifty vote margin, which meant that the Vice-President cast the tie-breaking vote. To see how your Senator voted click here.

Since the Senate bill makes some technical changes to the final budget agreement approved by the House on Monday, the bill now goes back to the House for final approval. The President is expected to then sign the bill once approved by both chambers. That vote could occur as early as this month, but is likely to take place in January.

While this outcome is disappointing, we do need to take the time to acknowledge our united efforts. CWLA members and other advocates undertook sustained efforts in bombarding members of Congress with calls, meetings, faxes, and emails both in Washington DC and in the states over several months to carry the message for children. CWLA led the charge on Capitol Hill and brought together strategic partners including the National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, AARP, American Public Human Services Association and the Children's Defense Fund in order to build support and momentum.

Now it is time to regroup. This Congressional action is a setback and there remain many challenges facing us in our efforts to seek improvements for children and families.

We were successful in creating awareness in Congress as evidenced by the close vote in the Senate. Our job now is to refine our strategies to ensure that the public, the press and elected officials understand the urgency in addressing the needs of abused and neglected children. We must continue to demand that children not come out on the losing end of budget decisions.

If the final vote in the House is delayed until January, we will take advantage of the additional time by continuing to urge members of the House to oppose final passage of the budget bill. We will alert you to developments as circumstances warrant.

Attached is a brief description of the provisions of the Senate approved bill. We will send to you a detailed description of all of the provisions of the bill that affect children immediately after the holidays.

Thanks for your continued efforts in support of CWLA's mission to ensure that children are our nation's priority. Together, we continue to be the voice for abused and neglected children.

Thank you for your continued advocacy. For more information, including other background and analysis, visit CWLA's No Caps on Kids! Campaign website or contact Liz Meitner, CWLA Vice President of Government Affairs, at or 202-942-0257.

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