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

   
   
Vol. 21, Issue 8: 2/25/2008   
Headlines

McDermott Introduces Major Child Welfare Reform Legislation

March 4: The Day to Call Out for Child Care

2008 CWLA Legislative Agenda and Hot Topics Available Online

CWLA Radio Blog, Speaking for America's Children: Special Time this Week

Join CWLA's Call for a White House Conference on Children and Youth

CWLA Legislative Alerts Available to Subscribers

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress



McDermott Introduces Major Child Welfare Reform Legislation

Just before the President's Day break, Representative Jim McDermott (D-WA) introduced the Invest in KIDS Act, H.R. 5466. McDermott is Chair of the House Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support, the key subcommittee to the child welfare community.

CWLA supports the new bill since it advances many of the key principles for a major reform proposal: federal support for all children in care, more flexibility in the use of funds to provide key services, support for kinship families, expanded access to federal funds by tribal communities, expanded support for youth, and funding to address the workforce shortage in child welfare.

McDermott introduced a similar measure in the last Congress, and this bill builds on that effort in several areas. Similar to his last bill, this legislation would allow federal funding through title IV-E foster care and adoption assistance to all children, replacing current eligibility limitations. As many people in child welfare understand, currently eligibility for federal foster care and adoption assistance is based on whether a child was removed from a family that would have been eligible for the now nonexistent AFDC cash assistance program. Fewer than 45% of foster children are eligible for federal support. The bill would extend coverage to all children in care and hold down the cost by reducing the federal funding matching rate. It would allow states up to three years to update their current coverage, meaning states would have time to maximize coverage and funding.

The bill would extend Title IV-E to kinship and guardianship placements, and allows tribes and tribal consortia to apply for direct access to federal funds. Another feature would allow states to draw down IV-E funds for services in a more flexible manner than currently allowed. State spending in this flexible manner would be based on a state plan to address some of the shortfalls outlined by a state's Child and Family Service Reviews and the resulting Program Improvement Plans. States would have to have outcomes to measure the results.

The legislation contains a new subpart three under Title IV-B to assist in the development of a state child welfare workforce strategy. A state would submit a plan for these federal dollars and measure such data as caseloads. Another provision that has long been supported by CWLA is access to Title IV-E training funds by nonprofit agencies. These funds could also be used for court personnel.

A new provision in the McDermott bill that is gaining interest in this Congress would allow states to provide Title IV-E foster care funds through age 21, at state option. HHS would issue regulations around the supervision for this extended care population. Currently, states that allow such coverage use state funds, or they use a patchwork of federal funding, including funds from the Chaffee Independent Living program, to provide a mix of services as a transition but not to keep children in care.

A new concept in H.R. 5466 is a grant that could be used in three ways: to create a kinship navigator program, similar to provisions in the Kinship Caregiver Support Act (S. 661/H.R. 2188); to fund intensive family-finding programs, and to fund the use of family-group decision making. Fifty million dollars a year would be provided to allow states to fund such efforts.

The bill would also reauthorize the current adoption incentive fund, which is due to expire, and seek to better promote the use of adoption tax credits to lower income families, especially foster families. The bill would require states to have better health planning with the state Medicaid agency and would also require states to have plans that would allow a child in foster care to remain in his or her school of origin when it's in the best interest of the child, or when they have to relocate, to be allowed immediate admission into a new school.

The legislation is scheduled for an initial hearing this week. The subcommittee is still limited by the "paygo" rules that require committees--at least in the human service area--to pay for any new programs or program cost increases with offsets or reductions in other areas of the committee's jurisdiction. Some provisions have been gaining in popularity and may be low in cost, such as the two kinship bills, the extension of funding to tribes, and extending the age of foster care. One or a combination of these proposals could pass in this Congress, depending on the political momentum.

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March 4: The Day to Call Out for Child Care

On March 4, CWLA is joining with key national partners to get Congress to focus on the need for more child care funding. On that day, many organizations, groups, and individuals will be asking members, friends, and colleagues to call or e-mail Congress requesting increased investments for child care and Head Start for FY 2009. We ask you to join us in this effort. Thanks to the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, all participating organizations will also have access to a toll-free number (1-888-460-0813) that automatically connects to the Capitol switchboard. Look here next week for more links to action, or look for a CWLA Alert next week.

Among the organizations participating are the National Women's Law Center; the National Association for the Education of Young Children; the Center for Law and Social Policy; the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies; the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees; the American Federation of Teachers; the Coalition on Human Needs; the Early Care and Education Consortium; Fight Crime: Invest in Kids; the National Council of Jewish Women; the National Head Start Association; the National Indian Head Start Directors Association; the National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Association; RESULTS; the Service Employees International Union; and Voices for America's Children.

Several years ago on March 4, children's advocates worked together to generate thousands of e-mails to Congress in support of increased investments in child care. Now, it's time to March Forth once again!

The Administration proposes a continued freeze for child care funding as it predicts child care services will continue to decline. For FY 2009, the Administration has proposed level funding at $2.06 billion in annually appropriated funding. For seven years in a row, the Administration has offered a freeze in discretionary child care funds. The Administration projections show a loss of 200,000 child care slots in 2009 if their requested is approved.

The same budget also proposes a slight increase in Head Start funding for FY 2009, from $6.90 billion to $7.03 billion. Last year, Head Start was reauthorized by Congress and received an increase of approximately $14 million. Both last year's funding total and the Administration's request for FY 2009 leaves Head Start funding well below the proposed funding level included in the Head Start reauthorization of $7.6 billion.

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2008 CWLA Legislative Agenda and Hot Topics Available Online

The 2008 edition of the CWLA Legislative Agenda including the Hot Topics are now available online. Last week, the agenda was sent to Capitol Hill. This week, as part of the CWLA National Conference, members will go to Capitol Hill to advocate in particular on the CWLA Hot Topics. This year's focus is on supporting H.R. 5461, legislation to create a White House Conference on Children and Youth. A second Hot Topic is the kinship care legislation (S. 661 and H.R. 2188) sponsored by Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Olympia Snow (R-ME) in the Senate and Representatives Danny Davis (D-IL) and Tim Johnson (R-IL) in the House.

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CWLA Radio Blog, Speaking for America's Children: Special Time this Week

"On-the-Line with CWLA" is a thought-provoking, interactive, Internet based, live radio program focusing on subjects, stories, and strategies of special interest to child welfare policymakers, providers, and practitioners. The program, which is solely devoted to discussions about the welfare of America's vulnerable children, features a forum where numerous points-of-view and voices of experience within the child welfare universe can be heard. To listen to "On-Line with CWLA" go to www.blogtalkradio.com/CWLA-Radio.

A special edition of "On-the-Line with CWLA" will be on location for Advocacy Day at the 2008 CWLA National Conference in Washington, DC, featuring enlightening conversations with special guests and conference attendees who have come to the conference to contribute, to listen and to learn about strategies and solutions that will lead to positive and lasting outcomes for America's children and youth. Listeners, call (347) 326-9411 with questions or comments.

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Join CWLA's Call for a White House Conference on Children and Youth

Holding a White House Conference on Children will bring together a cross-section of policymakers, advocates, professionals (including the courts), and families and children directly affected by the child welfare system to create recommendations for policy and change. Much positive change has come from previous White House conferences for children, the last one being held in 1970. CWLA is calling on Congress and the next President to reestablish this important policymaking tradition, and the time to act is NOW.

Your support and involvement with this effort is crucial to its success. As experts in the field, we look to you for your leadership in asking Congress and others to support this important campaign for children.

Sign On in Support

CWLA is calling on members and supporters to sign on in support of a White House Conference on Children in 2010.

Pass a Board Resolution

If your organization requires you to pass a board resolution to officially support such an effort, CWLA has created a sample resolution to assist you in this effort.

Let Congress Know of Your Support

The League encourages you to send your resolutions and letters of support to your Congressional delegation. Without their support, a White House conference is not possible.

In keeping with CWLA's tradition of nonpartisanship, the letter has been sent to all presidential candidates in the two major parties. View the website, read the letter, and sign on to support the campaign.

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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 25-27: CWLA National Conference
  • March15-30: Congressional Spring Break
  • April 1: Start of Child Abuse Prevention Month
  • April 15: Target date to pass Congressional budget resolution
  • May 15: Target date for House to begin passage of 12 appropriations bills
  • June 27: Target date For House to complete work on appropriations


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