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

   
   
Vol. 19, Issue 38: 9/25/2006   
Headlines

Senate Passes PSSF Reauthorization

Update on Congressional Action

Court Likely to Enjoin Medicaid Documentation Rule

CWLA Signs on to Key Letters Advocating for Children's Health

National Convening on Youth Permanence

CWLA Legislative Alerts Available to Subscribers

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress



Senate Passes PSSF Reauthorization

On September 20, the Senate passed by voice vote the conference agreement on S. 3525, the Children and Family Services Improvement Act of 2006, which reauthorizes the Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) program. PSSF provides mandatory funds of $305 million (funding provided automatically without an annual appropriation) and $200 million in authorized funds, which Congress must approve each year through the annual appropriations process. States use the funds for four programs: time-limited reunification services, adoption promotion and support services, family preservation, and family support services. In FY 2006, Congress approved $89.1 million in discretionary PSSF funds, which, when combined with the $305 million in authorized mandatory fund, made for a total of $394 million.

The new legislation includes an additional $40 million annually in mandatory funds. Part of these funds will be designated for competitive grants to address substance abuse and child welfare. The rest of the mandatory funds will be provided to each state to promote workforce improvements. The final legislation was a compromise between the House and Senate versions of the reauthorization.

The compromise bill creates competitive grants of $500,000 to $1 million to address substance abuse as it affects the child welfare system. States would have to be partners in these projects, and methamphetamine abuse would be a priority, but other drug and substance abuse problems could be addressed. The funding starts in FY 2007 at $40 million, then continues at $35 million in 2008, $30 million in 2009, and $20 million in 2010 and 2011.

The remaining funding is tied to monthly foster care visits and workforce initiatives. The funds are to be used for workforce initiatives designed to help states reach the goal of monthly visits. This could include technological support, loan forgiveness, recruitment, and other initiatives that would help develop and support the workforce. To carry out this work, the additional $40 million in mandatory funds for FY 2006 would be available to states through the rest of this year and through 2007. Funding beyond that is $5 million in 2008, $10 million in 2009, and $20 million in 2010 and 2011. States would draw down these funds on a matching basis, with the federal government providing a 75% match ($75 federal to $25 state).

The final legislation also makes changes to the state plan requirements under the Child Welfare Services program, including requiring states to have plans for their child welfare systems in case of a disaster. The changes to state plans do not include Senate language that would have required a special evaluation of families who adopt or provide foster care for large numbers of children.

The House of Representatives is expected to act on the conference report this week. CWLA has a more detailed analysis online.

Back to Headlines

Update on Congressional Action

Congress plans to adjourn at the end of this week for the election campaign. Congress is expected to continue focus this week on negotiations concerning several security issues, including surveillance, detention, trial, and border policies.

Back to Headlines

Court Likely to Enjoin Medicaid Documentation Rule

Children eligible for Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance received good news last week when a federal judge indicated he was likely to issue an injunction that would prevent foster children from being subject to the new Medicaid citizenship documentation requirements. The judge indicated there was a strong likelihood of success in obtaining an injunction on the merits of the case for foster children, even though he dismissed the class action case with respect to plaintiffs claiming to represent the 40 million other Medicaid enrollees seeking injunctive and declaratory relief from the federal regulations implementing the new documentation requirements. CWLA is continuing to monitor these legal developments, as the case has now been referred to a Magistrate Judge; a status hearing is set for October 5.

Back to Headlines

CWLA Signs on to Key Letters Advocating for Children's Health

CWLA signed on to two coalition letters submitted to Congress last week on key issues pertaining to the health of children, including those who come into contact with the child welfare system.

The first letter, signed by a number of organizations concerned with children's health care, including CWLA, was spearheaded by the American Academy of Pediatrics and urged all Members of Congress to "take immediate action to help states avert federal funding shortfalls under the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) projected for federal fiscal year 2007."

Various estimates by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, as well as the Congressional Research Service and other independent analysts, predict that 17-18 states will face approximately $800 million-$950 million in total funding shortfalls in federal SCHIP funding in 2007, threatening their ability to sustain their existing SCHIP programs. The letter notes that the Census Bureau recently reported the number of children without health insurance increased for the first time in many years in 2005, and that the failure of Congress to address the 2007 SCHIP funding shortfalls could add even more children to the ranks of the uninsured.

CWLA also signed on to a letter to Congress last week to take immediate action to block possible regulatory action by the Administration that would cut federal funding for Medicaid. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is considering regulations that would limit the type of rehabilitation services that are eligible for federal matching funds by excluding services such as special instruction and therapy for Medicaid beneficiaries with mental illness or developmental disabilities. This Medicaid "option" category of Rehabilitative Services plays a key role in funding mental health services for children in foster care.

CWLA also was listed as a signatory in an advertisement that appeared in Roll Call, a Capitol Hill publication, voicing opposition to these proposed cuts in Medicaid funding.

Also last week, Representative John Barrow (D-GA) introduced H.R. 6098, The Keep Kids Covered Act, which would require the HHS to provide states with funds equal to their expected SCHIP budget deficits in FY 2007.

Back to Headlines

National Convening on Youth Permanence

September 13-15, the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Casey Family Services sponsored the 2006 National Convening on Youth Permanence. CWLA was one of eight organizations that cosponsored the briefing. The three-day convention addressed such themes as reducing overreliance on congregate care, support for prevention services, guardianship and kinship caregivers, policy reform and implementation, media relations and child welfare, youth participation in dependency court proceedings, and reunification of the parent-child relationship once rehabilitation has been achieved.

Panelists included U.S. Representative Danny K. Davis (D-Illinois), who spoke candidly about the community and Congress as important contributing factors in establishing family permanence for older youth in foster care.

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 29: Congress Begins Fall Recess
October 1: Federal 2007 Fiscal Year Begins
October 6: Original Target Adjournment
November 7: Election Day


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.