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

   
   
Vol. 20, Issue 7: 2/12/2007   
Headlines

CWLA Calls on Congress to Reject President's 2008 Budget

President's Budget Would Reduce Children's Coverage Through SCHIP

Juvenile Justice Programs Eliminated Under Administration Budget

SSBG Cut in President's FY 2008 Budget

Child Care and Head Start Come Up Short in 2008 Budget

Movement on Minimum Wage, Head Start, CR Possible Next Week

Make Your Voice Heard on Capitol Hill

CWLA Legislative Alerts Available to Subscribers

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress



CWLA Calls on Congress to Reject President's 2008 Budget

Human service funding suffers under the President's FY 2008 budget proposal, released February 5. Overall, the budget provides an increase of approximately 1%, outside of the Defense and Homeland Security Departments.

In the children's area, the President's proposed budget
  • targets the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) for a half billion dollar cut,
  • would freeze or reduce child care and Head Start funding,
  • targets juvenile justice funding for cuts,
  • once again proposes the optional child welfare block grant,
  • would level-fund child welfare services, and
  • proposes funding for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) that would result in fewer children being covered over the next five years.
Much of the discretionary funding that provides for most of these programs is absorbed by the Defense Department. When the Defense budget of $481 billion is added to a 2007 supplemental request for funding for the war (nearly $100 billion), plus the additional funding for the war in FY 2008 (approximately $145 billion), funding for Defense and the war total nearly three-quarters of a trillion dollars.

CWLA President and CEO Shay Bilchik called on Congress to reject the budget, issuing a statement that said in part,
With cuts to children's health, and the Social Services Block Grant, and a continuing call for a foster care block grant, this budget is out of balance with America's priorities. This includes elimination of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, a grievous error in judgment that will jeopardize the gains we have made in reducing youth crime. With a budget that includes nearly three-quarters of a trillion in spending for the Defense Department and the war, this budget spends more in this one area than the 1982 budget spent on the entire federal government, including the cold war and Social Security.
For a more complete description of the President's budget, and a chart on individual funding levels, our website.

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President's Budget Would Reduce Children's Coverage Through SCHIP

The President's 2008 budget proposes inadequate funding for SCHIP for the next five years and would limit SCHIP coverage to children at 200% of poverty or lower. At least 16 states now go beyond this coverage. The proposal would limit SCHIP coverage at a time when many states and advocates are attempting to enhance and extend coverage.

For 2008, funding is projected to be at $5.4 billion, a decrease of $223 million from the FY 2007 continuing resolution (CR), and not nearly enough to address current funding shortfalls. As part of SCHIP reauthorization, the President's budget also would provide only $5 billion in additional funding for the program over five years. A widely accepted figure is that an additional $12 billion to $15 billion is needed over the next five years just to continue the program's current level of children's health coverage.

In addition to limited SCHIP funding, the President's budget request projects Medicaid mandatory spending to be $203.9 billion for FY 2008, a $12 billion increase over funding in the FY 2007 CR. The President's budget proposes Medicaid legislative changes the Administration projects would save $13 billion over five years and administrative changes that would save $12.7 billion over five years--a total of $25.7 million in proposed Medicaid savings.

Among the legislative changes to achieve this savings is a proposed cap on Medicaid targeted case management (TCM) costs to no more than a 50% federal matching rate, the same matching rate as Medicaid administrative services. Current practice allows TCM services to be matched at the higher Medicaid service rate, which varies by state from 50% to as high as 80%. The Administration calculates this restriction would reduce Medicaid costs by $208 million in FY 2007 and by $1.2 billion over five years. For many states, these TCM funds represent a significant source of child welfare funding. Limiting reimbursement to 50% would leave states with less federal support to provide these needed services.

Again, like last year, proposed administrative changes include regulations to address reimbursement for services claimed under the Medicaid Rehabilitative Services option, resulting in a cut of $2.3 billion over five years. Medicaid coverage of rehabilitative services is an important service for children in the child welfare system. Rehabilitative services include any medical or remedial service recommended by a physician or other licensed practitioner of the healing arts, within the scope of his or her practice under state law, for maximum reduction of physical or mental disability and restoration of a recipient to the best possible functional level. For many states, Title IV-E and Medicaid are significant federal funding sources for the care and treatment of children in state custody.

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Juvenile Justice Programs Eliminated Under Administration Budget

The President's budget calls for eliminating dedicated funding for juvenile justice and delinquency prevention. In its place would be created a new flexible block grant, the Child Safety and Juvenile Justice Program. Funding for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention would also be eliminated in this proposal.

After juvenile justice funding cuts of 40% in the past five years, the Administration is now proposing to eliminate what remains of the federal commitment to a focused, dedicated system of federal funding with an office to oversee, evaluate, and monitor juvenile justice throughout the country.

The Child Safety and Juvenile Justice Program is proposed to be a flexible grant program in which states and localities would compete for funding based on local needs and national priorities. The new block grant would consolidate existing juvenile justice programs with other federal concerns, including the Internet Crimes Against Children program.

Block grants are more susceptible to budget cuts because they are general and more likely labeled ineffective, since concrete outcomes are not monitored or realized. Funding for the Juvenile Accountability Block Grants Program (JABG) has decreased from $250 million to $50 million in the past five years. The President's budget request proposes zero funding for JABG in light of the new block grant.

Similarly, state activities focused on youth crime and delinquency prevention would be placed at risk under a block grant program. Unlike the current system, in which states are funded under a formula based on the number of youth who live there, under the President's proposed budget, states would be required to apply for grants and face the uncertainty of continued funding and the possibility that funds would be denied entirely.

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SSBG Cut in President's FY 2008 Budget

The President's FY 2008 budget request would decreases funding for Administration for Children and Families (ACF) programs $1.9 billion below the FY 2007 CR. One of the many cuts in ACF programs would be in SSBG. Proposed funding for SSBG is $1.2 billion, a $500 million decrease from the FY 2007 funding level. Congress rejected this proposed in the President budget request last year.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the decrease in funding for SSBG is due to a rating of "Results Not Demonstrated" in the 2005 Program Assessment Rating Tool evaluation. This is an evaluation tool the Administration has been using to justify cuts in human services. The criticism is that, as a block grant, it is hard to track results in SSBG. At the same time, the Administration argues the flexibility of a block grant is one reason why they are proposing an optional block grant of foster care funding.

Last fiscal year, the Administration took the initiative of directing state agencies to submit their annual preexpenditure reports for SSBG to include the proposed cut. Some states in turn directed programs and local governments to assume the cuts in SSBG. CWLA joined with the American Public Human Services Association in asking the Administration to stop this directive, since Congress had indicated it would not cut SSBG. At that time, the Administration's cut was supposed to be temporary. This fiscal year, the Administration proposes making the SSBG cut permanent.

CWLA will continue to oppose cuts in SSBG and emphasize that child care, home-based services, employment services, case management services, prevention and intervention programs, special services for people with disabilities, and vital child welfare programs will all be hurt by such a dramatic cut.

To access the HHS Budget in Brief for FY 2008, visit www.dhhs.gov/budget/docbudget.htm.

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Child Care and Head Start Come Up Short in 2008 Budget

For the sixth budget in a row, the Administration has passed up on the opportunity to increase child care funding. With a proposed budget that would provide $2.06 billion in appropriated child care funds, the quality and amount of child care funding will continue to erode. For the past six years, the Administration has offered a freeze in discretionary child care funds. From 2002 through 2012, Administration projections show a loss of 445,000 child care slots.

Head Start could be in worse shape. If the Senate adopts the 2007 CR, and Head Start FY 2007 funding is increased by $103.7 million, the President's 2008 budget would result in a $100 million cut. The National Head Start Association estimates this cut would result in the equivalent of closing enrollment to 30,599 children in FY 2008. This figure takes into account a Congressional Budget Office estimated increase in the consumer price index for all urban consumers of 1.9% for FY 2008. In fact, these constraints, when combined with the Bush Administration's FY 2008 budget proposal, means Head Start programs will have experienced a 13% real cut in federal funding since FY 2002.

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Movement on Minimum Wage, Head Start, CR Possible Next Week

Next week could see action on many fronts in addition to the debate on the war and the 2008 budget. House Ways and Means Chair Charles Rangel (D-NY) has indicated he may be willing to include some tax cuts as part of the minimum wage bill. He indicated the business tax cuts would likely be smaller than the Senate version. Others on Capitol Hill are insisting on a set of business tax cuts being part of any minimum wage increase.

Also, there is a possibility that the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee will begin work on a reauthorization of Head Start. This would be the first action on Head Start in the new Congress. Head Start was to be reauthorized in 2003, but disagreements have delayed action.

The Senate must also act on a CR for FY 2007. The House has passed a CR that funds the government for the remainder of FY 2007. The Senate has not acted. Some Senate Republicans have complained about the level of funding for Defense Department base closings, and it has been suggested that an across-the-board cut would be one way to restore the funding. Any change on the Senate side would force the bill back to House. The current CR expires February 15.

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Make Your Voice Heard on Capitol Hill

CWLA's national conference, Children 2007: Raising Our Voices for Children, will be held February 25-28. On Tuesday, February 27, CWLA will host its annual Hill Day event. This event will be especially vital in getting child welfare issues on the national agenda, since there is a new Congress in place, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) talks frequently about the importance of children.

Hill Day is an excellent opportunity to meet with members of Congress and key staff. Every year, this event brings together hundreds of participants who carry a strong message to Capitol Hill. This will be an energizing day and one of the most significant advocacy actions for child welfare in 2007.

Hill Day gives constituents the opportunity to actively promote CWLA's 2007 Legislative Agenda which will be officially released during the conference. Hill Day begins with presentations by leaders in Congress on their priorities for 2007, and briefings by the CWLA Government Affairs staff. At lunchtime, participants go to specific state and regional caucuses to discuss the issues, talking points, lobbying tips, and more general information. In the afternoon, Hill Day participants take a bus to the Capitol to meet with their Representatives and Senators and staff.

We encourage everyone attending the conference to schedule meetings with your Members of Congress for Hill Day. CWLA can provide contact information and tips on arranging visits, or you can contact your state leader State Leaders are leaders in the field, advocates in their states, and volunteers with CWLA to lead their states' delegations to Capitol Hill. Contact your State Leader today!

As part of the annual conference, CWLA is conducting a special institute on local advocacy, "Create Change: New Strategies and Lessons Learned around Local Level Advocacy," to be held Sunday, February 25, 1:00-5:00 p.m. This institute will be dedicated to developing effective messaging and creating and testing different approaches to advocacy. Guest presenters will discuss how to craft successful local messages and initiatives based on recent analysis. Create Change will be a great opportunity for child welfare advocates to develop local level strategy and messaging.

Register for the conference at online. For more information about Create Change or Hill Day, contact Cristina Fahrenthold, CWLA Government Affairs, at cfahrenthold@cwla.org or 202/942-0257.

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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

February 5: Release of the President's 2008 budget request
February 19-23: Presidents' Day Recess
February 25-28: CWLA National Conference, Children 2007: Raising Our Voices for Children, in Washington DC
March 15: Tentative deadline for House to debate 2008 budget resolution


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