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

   
   
Vol. 20, Issue 22: 6/4/2007   
Headlines

2008 Health and Human Services Appropriations Scheduled Early

Proposals Would Expand Title IV-E, Not Convert It to a Block Grant

Update on Boxer Bill Extending Federal Foster Care Funding to Age 21

SCHIP Shortfall Addressed; Reauthorization Legislation Is Next

Kinship Caregiver Support Act: Additional Cosponsors

CWLA Legislative Alerts Available to Subscribers

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress



2008 Health and Human Services Appropriations Scheduled Early

Legislation covering appropriations for child welfare programs is expected to be brought up to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor-HHS) soon. Over the last several years, Congress has waited to act on the appropriations bill for Labor-HHS until the very end. This year the leadership wants to act on Labor-HHS early in the process.

The bill contains most of the human services funding as well as funding for education and labor programs. Many of the child welfare programs and funding for other key programs such as Head Start and child care are funded through this legislation. In past Congresses, Labor-HHS was a major target for cuts or freezes. In this Congress, however, leaders are looking to add funding. With the White House indicating the President may veto spending bills if they don't adhere to his requests, voting on Labor-HHS early and perhaps packaging it with another bill the President would not veto would be one way to get around the White House challenge.

The President's budget proposal released in February would actually require cuts in funding for the appropriations bill. Congressional leadership has indicated interest in increasing funding for education and health research. CWLA, along with many other groups, is requesting significant increases of more than $700 million each for child care and Head Start, two programs that have experienced an erosion of coverage over the past several budgets.

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Proposals Would Expand Title IV-E, Not Convert It to a Block Grant

Over the first few months of the 110th Congress, a series of bills were introduced that would expand Title IV-E funding beyond the population it serves today--children in foster care and special needs adoptions. Reintroduced in the 110th Congress are two bills to expand Kinship Care: S. 661 by Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and H.R. 2188 by Representatives Danny Davis (D-IL) and Tim Johnson (R-IL).

In addition to the growing interest and support for extending Title IV-E funding to kinship placements, Representative Jerry Weller (R-IL) has introduced a bill he supported in early Congresses--H.R. 2314--which allows states to use their Title IV-E training funds for private, nonprofit agencies licensed by the states. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) last week introduced a new measure that would expand Title IV-E by allowing states to extend current coverage of federal foster care funding to the age of 21 (see below). Also reintroduced last week was a bill (S. 1462) by Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) that would de-link Title IV-E adoption assistance funding from the current eligibility restrictions now tied to the AFDC program. There are likely to be more proposals in the coming months as the key committees in both houses hold hearings on the financing of child welfare and other needed reforms.

The administration proposed an optional block grant of Title IV-E foster care funding in their budget proposal released in February. This optional block grant proposal was included in each of the President's budget proposals for fiscal years 2004-2007, and now again for 2008, but has never been introduced into legislation. The proposal allows states to take a fixed block grant of funding based on projections of what the state might spend over a five-year period. CWLA has opposed the plan, believing it would lead to an outright end to the federal entitlement.

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Update on Boxer Bill Extending Federal Foster Care Funding to Age 21

Last week Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) held a press conference in California to announce the introduction of legislation to extend federal foster care funding from age 18 to age 21. We reported that the bill would not be introduced until after the Memorial Day break. In fact, Senator Boxer introduced the bill just before the break. S. 1512 would amend the current law that defines foster children to age 18 by giving states an option to extend this to age 21. The current cutoff date affects approximately 20,000 young people every year.

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SCHIP Shortfall Addressed; Reauthorization Legislation Is Next

On May 25, 2007, President Bush signed the supplemental military appropriations bill that included up to $650 million for states that have already or are expected to experience a shortfall in federal funds for their State Children's Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP) during FY 2007.

With the first hurdle past, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) recently stated that his target date for markup of legislation that would reauthorize SCHIP is June 7. SCHIP, a block grant program that provides health insurance to over 6 million children whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid and those who are either not offered or cannot afford private coverage, is due to expire on September 30, 2007.

Senator Baucus previously pledged an additional $50 billion over five years for the program, and Congressís 2008 budget resolution (S. Con. Res. 21) similarly includes a reserve fund of up to $50 billion. There has been great speculation as to how that much money would materialize, considering the current pay-as-you-go restraints. It is expected that those questions will be answered as reauthorization proceeds.

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Kinship Caregiver Support Act: Additional Cosponsors

The Senate version of the Kinship Caregiver Support Act (S. 661) was introduced in February by Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and Thad Cochran (R-MS). Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), John Kerry (D-MA), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Norm Coleman (R-MN), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Patty Murray (D-WA) are all cosponsors of the act. The House version (H.R. 2188), introduced by Representatives Danny Davis (D-IL) and Tim Johnson (R-IL) last month, has one additional cosponsor, Representative Dennis Moore (D-KS). CWLA believes the act is truly a bipartisan issue that all members of Congress should consider cosponsoring.

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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.

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Key Upcoming Dates for Congress

May 26-June 3: Congressional Memorial Day Break
June 30-July 8: Congressional July 4th Break
August 6-September 4: August Summer Break
October 1: 2008 Federal Fiscal Year Begins


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