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

   
   
Vol. 19, Issue 42: 10/23/2006   
Headlines

Advance The 5-Point Congressional Platform!

Possible Appropriations Options in November

States Scheduled for Second Round of CFSRs in 2007

CWLA Legislative Alerts Available to Subscribers

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress



Advance The 5-Point Congressional Platform!

Join CWLA and participate in this new effort. You can make a difference in children's lives by being a part of this new initiative to engage Members of Congress. Urge Representatives and Senators to support the 5-Point Platform and help to Make Children a National Priority in 2006!

The five points in the platform will help protect children who are abused and neglected and help prevent abuse. The platform includes specific, concrete issues federal legislators can and should support to protect the nearly 900,000 children abused and neglected each year. The platform's five points represent specific legislative actions every member of the House and Senate should support. Find out more.

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Possible Appropriations Options in November

Perhaps the only "must do" legislation Congress has to address in its post-election session are the remaining appropriations bills. Only the Defense and Homeland Security Departments have approved budgets for fiscal year 2007, which began October 1.

On November 17, the continuing resolution (CR) that is funding all the remaining federal departments will run out. Congress will consider at least two options: One possibility is a large omnibus bill that would include funding for all the remaining unfunded departments. A second option would be to pass a CR that would extend funding into January or later next year and push a final budget onto the agenda of the next Congress.

If Congress decides to adopt an omnibus appropriations bill, Congress's first task will be to deal with an additional $7 billion for the Subcommittee on Appropriations for Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor-HHS). When the Senate adopted its budget proposal for federal spending, it shifted some funding from the Defense Department into the domestic side. The goal was to add $7 billion for Labor-HHS. That increase would maintain funding for the three departments at a level equal to 2005.

If Congress decides to find the additional money through an across-the-board cut, it would likely have to reduce spending by more than 1%. That would be the fifth year in a row Congress would have imposed cuts across the board on domestic, nondefense programs. The across-the-board cuts began in FY 2003, with a cut at 0.65%, and each year the cuts have inched up past 1%.

Although they appear minor, those cuts have had an effect because the Administration incorporates many of them into its budget proposal for the following fiscal year. For example, Child Welfare Services (CWS) is a discretionary fund (requiring annual approval) for preventive child welfare services. It stood at $292 million in FY 2002, and was at $286 million in FY 2006. Similarly, the discretionary funding for Child Care stood at $2.1 billion in FY 2002 and had been reduced to $2.062 billion in FY 2006, a cut of $38 million. In these and other instances, not only have programs not been adjusted for inflation, but they have been reduced.

For a look at current funding levels go to www.cwla.org/advocacy/budgetdetails07.htm.

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States Scheduled for Second Round of CFSRs in 2007

Fourteen states and the District of Columbia are slated for their second Child and Family Service Review (CFSRs) in 2007. In addition to DC, the states include Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, and Vermont.

In 1994, Congress adopted amendments to the Social Security Act requiring the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to review state child welfare programs to ensure "substantial conformity" with state plan requirements in Titles IV-B and IV-E. The law requires that state child welfare programs be measured in certain areas, using specific criteria. HHS, working with the states and other parties, developed the outcome measurements to be used in the reviews.

The CFSR process has three major parts, beginning with a statewide assessment, which begins before the scheduled review. A state completes a self-assessment addressing specified topics in the areas of safety, permanency, and well being.

After that assessment, a review team conducts an onsite review that focuses on hard-copy records and computer documentation; interviews with children, family members, state staff, and medical and legal professionals. The review measures seven outcomes and seven systemic factors. Following the onsite review, the U.S. Children's Bureau prepares a final report of the review outcomes.

The final phase is the implementation of a Program Improvement Plan (PIP), which follows the CFSR to address areas of "noncompliance". A state is required to address noncompliance with any of the seven outcomes or seven systemic factors subject to review. The Children's Bureau must approve the plan. A state has two years to satisfy the goals described in the PIP. Financial penalties can be imposed for failure to achieve PIP objectives. All states completed their initial CFSRs by 2004.

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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.

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Key Upcoming Dates for Congress

October 1: 2007 Federal Fiscal Year Began
November 7: Election Day
November 13: Congress Returns
November 17: Continuing Resolution Expires


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