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

   
   
Vol. 20, Issue 16: 4/23/2007   
Headlines

Special Message

Congress Continues Budget Negotiations

Child Maltreatment: 2005 Report Released

CWLA Signs on to Letters Supporting CARES Network, SCHIP

Panel Questions Whether SCHIP Should Cover Parents

CWLA Legislative Alerts Available to Subscribers

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress



Special Message

The Child Welfare League of America remembers the tragic victims of the April 16 shootings on the campus of Virginia Tech. Our thoughts are with the families of the victims and all members of the community.

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Congress Continues Budget Negotiations

In addition to all the attention and negotiations over the supplemental appropriations bill and the debate over the war, members of the budget committees continue to negotiate their differences. The House bill, H. Con. Res. 99, provides nearly $5 billion more in discretionary funding than does the Senate counterpart, S. Con Res 21. Both resolutions set aside an additional $50 billion in a reserve fund, a technical vehicle that will allow the key authorizing committees to extend the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) with substantially more funds then the President has offered.

The Senate resolution also includes a reserve fund to increase child care funding through an increase in mandatory funds. CWLA has sent a letter to committee members and signed onto another urging support for the House Resolution. The letters urge budget committee members to support the increased funding level provided for SCHIP found in both resolutions, adopt the House overall spending levels, and approve the Senate proposed funding increase for child care.

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Child Maltreatment: 2005 Report Released

Last week, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) released its 16th annual publication of Child Maltreatment. This report uses data collected from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System from federal fiscal year 2005 and provides national information about child maltreatment reported by states' child protective services agencies.

The report shows of the 3,598,000 children investigated, an estimated 899,000 children were substantiated as victims of child abuse or neglect. The estimated number in 2004 was 872,000. Part of this increase is due to the inclusion of data from Alaska and Puerto Rico in 2005. The report also indicated 1,544,114 children received preventive services in 2005. Preventive services are provided to parents whose children are at risk of abuse or neglect.

Approximately 1 million children received post-investigation services. Sixty percent of children who were substantiated as abused or neglected received services. That is consistent with past years, in that approximately 40% of children who are victims do not receive services. In 2005, an estimated 1,460 children died as a result of child abuse and neglect. Nationally, 62.8% of child victims experienced neglect, 16.6% were physically abused, 9.3% were sexually abused, and 7.1% were emotionally or psychologically abused.

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CWLA Signs on to Letters Supporting CARES Network, SCHIP

CWLA has signed on to a letter sponsored by the American Academy of Pediatrics urging Congress to provide an additional $10 million to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control so that a network of consortia on the medical aspects of child abuse and neglect can be established. The so-called Health Child Abuse Research, Education, and Services (CARES) Network would link an array of medical providers, ranging from pediatricians to EMS providers, who are ideally positioned to identify at-risk children and families and intervene before maltreatment reaches a perilous stage. CARES would provide a forum for these caretakers to reach across professional lines and share information, develop educational programs, and disseminate best practices. CARES would supplement existing programs, with the added benefit that gained insight could help guide law enforcement, the judiciary, and the child protection system.

CWLA has also joined Families USA in a letter asking Senate budget conferees to keep a provision permitting Congress to increase the federal tobacco tax as a potential source of funds for reauthorization and hopeful expansion of SCHIP in its budget conference report. A popular and effective program enacted in 1997 to expand public health coverage to low-income children and families, SCHIP provides health insurance to more than 6 million children and is set to expire on September 30.

In their nonbinding advisory budget resolutions, both the House and the Senate pledged up to $50 billion over five years toward SCHIP. Due to in place “pay-as-you-go” rules, however, only $15 billion of that is already accounted for--the other $35 billion must come from elsewhere in the federal budget.

Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) sponsored the tobacco tax amendment, and it passed in the Senate with significant bipartisan support. Hearings are expected on this and other SCHIP issues, but the letter serves to remind lawmakers that, for now, everything should be left on the table as a funding option for reauthorization of this important program.

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Panel Questions Whether SCHIP Should Cover Parents

On April 12, four experts gathered at the Urban Institute to discuss a seemingly simple, yet multifaceted question that continues to be a controversial topic in the upcoming reauthorization of SCHIP: Should parents be covered by the program?

When SCHIP was enacted in 1997, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was authorized to approve "Section Demonstration 1115" waivers for alternative uses of SCHIP funds. In 2000, under the Clinton Administration, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued SCHIP waiver guidelines that explicitly allowed states to use SCHIP funds for adults under certain circumstances--for instance, to cover pregnant women and parents. In 2002, the Bush Administration extended the waiver policy even further to permit states to enroll childless adults in SCHIP.

Congress, in the 2006 Deficit Reduction Act, banned any new waivers to cover childless adults--but did not prohibit coverage expansions of parents of SCHIP-enrolled children. The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured reported in January 2007 that, currently, 8 states use SCHIP funds to cover parents, 4 states cover childless adults, and 11 states cover pregnant women through the option to define a fetus as an unborn child.

Supporters of maintaining coverage for parents acknowledge that parents are approximately 1.6 times more expensive to cover than children but stressed that parents in actuality make up a very small percentage of the program. In fact, of the 7.4 million SCHIP enrollees in 2006, only 6.8% were parents of children in Medicaid/SCHIP, and only 2.7%--were childless adults. Moreover, it is a very different program in terms of eligibility for children versus parents. The median Medicaid/SCHIP eligibility level for children is 200% of the federal poverty level (FPL), whereas parents are held to a much more stringent standard of 65% FPL.

Genevieve Kenney of the Urban Institute said at the forum that most parents covered by SCHIP are not eligible for other public health programs, or either have no offer of or cannot afford employer coverage. Several studies show that by covering and improving the physical and mental health of low-income parents under SCHIP, a more stable environment is created whereby these parents' children are more likely to obtain preventive health services.

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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

April 1-30: Child Abuse Prevention Month
May 1-31: Foster Care Awareness Month
May 13: Mothers Day and "Care About Kinship Week: Sponsor S. 661"
May 26-June 3: Congressional Memorial Day Break


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