Children's Monitor Online
A Public Policy Update from the Child Welfare League of America

   
   
Vol. 19, Issue 33: 8/14/2006   
Headlines

Two Additional Sets of Regulation Comments Due Soon

Proposed TANF Regulations

Proposed Regulations for Youth in Transition Database

CWLA Legislative Alerts Available to Subscribers

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress



Two Additional Sets of Regulation Comments Due Soon

Child welfare programs among the states could be greatly effected by a series of regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) over the past several weeks. HHS issued proposed regulations on Medicaid and citizenship verification, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, and the National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD).

On August 11, the comment period for the new Medicaid citizenship documentation requirements closed. CWLA issued its comments on August 4, with a call for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to exempt foster children from the new requirements. CWLA is concerned the new requirements could cause delay or denial in providing health care to the already extremely vulnerable child welfare population. If CMS does not change the regulations, a legislative change may be sought.

To read the full text of CWLA's comments, and for more information about the new eligibility requirements, visit CWLA's website at www.cwla.org/advocacy/medicaid.htm.

Back to Headlines

Proposed TANF Regulations

HHS is seeking comments on interim final rules for the TANF program. Comments are due August 28, 2006. The regulations are available online. You may transmit comments via the Internet at www.regulations.acf.hhs.gov.

The TANF block grant represented 20% of total federal funding for child welfare services in 2004, according to recent data from the Urban Institute survey of state child welfare programs, The Cost of Protecting Vulnerable Children V. This represents the second largest source of federal funds for child welfare. Title IV-E foster care and adoption assistance is the largest source of funding, providing 50% of total federal funds spent in fiscal year 2004.

The new TANF regulations are critical to child welfare because the budget cut package, the Deficit Reduction Act, not only included cuts in Title IV-E foster care and adoption assistance, but also extended the TANF program for an additional five years.

Changes enacted in TANF will require states to meet much higher work requirements for their TANF populations, and also tougher definitions of work. Up to now, states have had flexibility in how they move adults in TANF families to work. The previous law allowed states to separate out some of their TANF funds so that special target populations, such as people with mental health or substance abuse issues, could be served in different ways that might address these barriers to work.

States were also rewarded with a caseload credit for having reduced their caseloads since 1995. Under the 1996 agreement, 50% of adults had to be in work, but if a state had reduced its caseload by 30% since 1995, then the work requirement was also reduced by 30%, and only 20% of adults were required to work. That didn't necessarily mean states were not requiring more than 20% of their population to work. In some instances, a state may not have counted them or might have had people working fewer hours than they might otherwise. The new law makes few exceptions, and the regulations offer limited flexibility. A state receives a caseload credit only if it has reduced its TANF caseload since 2005.

The new regulations also set out to require states to have greater tracking of hours worked and whether individuals are working all hours required. There are greater restrictions on how states count education, with some states, such as Maine, concerned over the fate of their "Parents As Scholars" college education program. The new law is in contrast to the 1996 law,which depended heavily on state flexibility. Some state officials have complained that the original 1996 agreement traded off an uncapped individual entitlement in exchange for greater state flexibility. Now, 10 years later, some of that flexibility has eroded with new federal restrictions and mandates.

Adding to the pressure, the TANF reauthorization provides a very small increase in child care funding over the next five years. The higher work standards are expected to increase the pressure on child care, yet the new TANF law provides only a first-year increase of $200 million in matching child care funds. That brings total funding for the Child Care and Development Funds (CCDF) to just under $5 billion. States have used a portion of TANF funds to supplement child care funding. Up until approximately two years ago, TANF had provided nearly half of all child care funding, with states using TANF to supplement CCDF dollars. With TANF providing 20% of child welfare funds and nearly 50% of child care funds, a need to reallocate TANF dollars to meeting new work requirements could have a ripple effect on both the child welfare and child care programs nationwide. In addition, states face federal financial penalties if they do not meet the new work rules.

Back to Headlines

Proposed Regulations for Youth in Transition Database

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) at HHS is seeking comments on proposed regulations to implement the National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD). Comments on this notice of proposed rulemaking must be received by September 12, 2006. To view the proposed regulations online, click here. You may e-mail comments to CBcomments@acf.hhs.gov or comment via the Internet at www.regulations.acf.hhs.gov.

This proposed rule implements the data collection requirements of the Chafee Foster Care Independence Act of 1999 (Public Law 106-169) as incorporated into the Social Security Act, section 477. The regulations require states to collect and report data to ACF on youth who are receiving independent living services and the outcomes of certain youth who are in foster care or who age out of foster care.

NYTD requires states to collect information on 1) outcome measures for youth aging out, including educational attainment, employment, avoidance of homelessness, nonmarital childbirth, and others; and 2) the number and characteristics of children receiving services and the types of services provided.

States will gather such information on young people as whether the youth is employed, whether the youth is receiving public or other types of assistance, a youth's educational achievement, whether a youth has been incarcerated, and a youth's marital and parenting status. The data will be used to assess the collective outcomes of youth and evaluate state performance with regard to those outcomes.

The implementation of NYTD will increase accountability for the services provided to youth preparing to transition from foster care to independence, and provide the results necessary to assess the effectiveness of Chafee-funded independent living services.

Without this important data, policymakers, advocates, program providers, child welfare professionals, and researchers cannot accurately assess the impact of the Chafee Program, determine whether federal funds have been used appropriately, and most importantly, gather objective information regarding outcomes for youth aging out of the foster care system. The law also requires that ACF impose a penalty of between one and five percent of the state's annual Chafee allotment for failing to comply with the reporting requirements.

Back to Headlines

CWLA Legislative Alerts Available to Subscribers

CWLA's Legislative Alerts provide breaking news, advocacy information, and critically important timely details of legislative battles. In an effort to broaden CWLA's advocacy network on behalf of children, anyone can now subscribe and receive the same information. This effort compliments CWLA's weekly electronic legislative newsletter, the Children's Monitor, which is also available free to any subscriber. We encourage you to register to receive these items directly and to pass on the information to other colleagues, family, and friends.

Subscribe to Legislative Alerts.

Subscribe to Children's Monitor.

Back to Headlines

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress

September 5: Congress Returns from Summer Recess
September 29: Congress Begins Fall Recess
October 6: Original Target Adjournment
November 13: House Lame Duck Session


Back to Headlines

Click here to see the list of previous issues

If you know of others who would like their names added to this list, please have them visit www.cwla.org/advocacy/monitoronline-optin.htm. To remove yourself from this list, send an e-mail to monitor@cwla.org with "Remove from Monitor Online List" in the subject line.

© Child Welfare League of America. The content of this publication 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.