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

   
   
Vol. 20, Issue 9: 2/26/2007   
Headlines

Kinship Caregiver Support Act Reintroduced

Education Begins at Home Act Reintroduced

CWLA Conducts Child Welfare Briefing for Capitol Hill

Report Released on Medicaid Access for Youth Leaving Foster Care

Report Released on Child Welfare Workforce

CWLA Legislative Alerts Available to Subscribers

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress



Kinship Caregiver Support Act Reintroduced

On February 16, Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), with cosponsors Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Thad Cochran (R-MS), reintroduced the Kinship Caregiver Support Act (S.661).

The main features of the bill are similar to the legislation from the previous Congress. The act contains a "subsidized guardianship provision," would establish a Kinship Navigator Program, and would notify grandparents or other relatives when children enter the foster care system. Subsidized guardianship would allow states to use Title IV-E funds to provide payments to grandparent and other relatives. The Kinship Navigator Program would help families locate services such as respite care and child care, health care, housing assistance, school enrollment, and many other services and benefits.

Currently, states use many approaches to fund kinship arrangements and subsidized guardianship placements. A limited number of states can use Title IV-E Foster Care funds through a waiver from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Other states rely on other federal sources, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG). Both TANF and SSBG, however, are used to fund other vital human services and are already under budget pressure.

In reintroducing the bill, Clinton said, "Nationwide, an estimated 20,000 children living in foster care could leave the system if Congress made subsidized guardianship available to their families...Almost one-fifth of grandparents responsible for their grandchildren live in poverty."

Access Clinton's statement in the Congressional Record online.

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Education Begins at Home Act Reintroduced

Senators Kit Bond (R-MO) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY) have reintroduced the Education Begins at Home Act, S. 667. The new bill comprises the same provisions as the bill in the last Congress and includes directing HHS to collaborate with the Department of Education to make grants available to all 50 states over three years, authorizing $400 million for states to implement home visiting programs. An additional $50 million would be authorized over three yeas for local partnerships that create or implement home visiting programs targeted to English language-learning families. Finally, an additional $50 million would be targeted to reach military families through the Department of Defense.

New language has been added to require a public education campaign concerning infant child abuse awareness; to provide services to fathers, grandparents, and other relatives who are responsible for a child or children; and to provide services to foster parents.

A number of different model programs would provide in-home visits to targeted vulnerable or new families. Findings suggest that 400,000 children birth to age 5 receive home visitation programs as either a stand-alone program or as part of a center-based program. Nurses, professionals, or other trained members of the community conduct the visits weekly, bimonthly, or monthly. Program goals include an increase in positive parenting practices, an improvement in the health of the entire family, an increase in the family's ability to be self-sufficient, and enhanced school readiness for the children in the family.

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CWLA Conducts Child Welfare Briefing for Capitol Hill

On February 12, conducted its first Capitol Hill briefing of the new Congress. The "Child Welfare 101" briefing provided information and data on the range of services and parts of the child welfare system as a primer to legislative staff unfamiliar with the current system. The information provided at the briefing is available on CWLA's website. The Urban Institute also presented information from its fifth survey of states on child welfare spending, The Cost of Protecting Vulnerable Children V. The Urban Institute report is available online.

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Report Released on Medicaid Access for Youth Leaving Foster Care

Last week, the American Public Human Services Association released a new report on Medicaid coverage for youth leaving foster care. The report, Medicaid Access for Youth Aging Out of Foster Care, surveyed states to determine what coverage they provide for young people leaving foster care. The report is online.

States have an option under the 1999 Foster Care Independence Act to extend Medicaid health coverage as young people leave the foster care system at age 18. According to the report, 17 states currently use the option to extend Medicaid coverage, and an another 5 states say they will extend their coverage in the next state legislative session.

In 2004, 23,121 young people left foster care because they aged-out or left because they became ineligible for support through the foster care system. Studies indicate great challenges for this population, who frequently are on their own without necessary supports including, education, housing and health care. The report is the most comprehensive survey of states on the issue and outlines what states plan to do in the area, as well as costs associated with extending Medicaid coverage.

CWLA has endorsed the call for all states to extend Medicaid coverage to all foster youth aging out of care.

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Report Released on Child Welfare Workforce

Children's Rights Inc. and the National Center For Youth Law have released a joint report on how to improve the child welfare workforce. The report is based on an analysis of the various class action lawsuits in place or that have taken place over the last several years. The study includes 17 recommendations to improve the child welfare workforce, including manageable caseloads, increased training hours, improved work conditions, including worker safety and technical and office support, greater focus on staff retention, and greater coordination between the various parties involved, including management, staff, public and private agencies, and others. The study was supplemented by interviews of participants in the litigation and included 74 interviewees in 12 jurisdictions. The report is online.

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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 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
April 2-9: Senate Spring Recess
April 2-13: House Spring Recess


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