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

   
   
Vol. 21, Issue 9: 3/3/2008   
Headlines

CWLA Member Testifies for CWLA at Hearing on McDermott Legislation

CWLA CEO Joins in Release of New Study of Youth in Foster Care

Governors Call on Congress to Delay Medicaid Rules

Congressional Briefings Highlight Value of CM/TCM Services

CWLA Holds Successful 2008 Conference Focused on White House Conference

CWLA Recognizes Members of Congress as Outstanding Advocates

HHS Releases Final Regulations on Chafee National Youth in Transition Database

New CWLA Radio Blog, "Speaking for America's Children"

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

CWLA Legislative Alerts Available to Subscribers

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress



CWLA Member Testifies for CWLA at Hearing on McDermott Legislation

On February 27, in the midst of the CWLA National Conference, CWLA member Jim Purcell testified on behalf of the organization and the Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies (COFCCA) of New York. His testimony before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support reviewed both the current child welfare system and the potential impact of H.R. 5466, the Invest in KIDS Act, introduced by Subcommittee Chair Jim McDermott (D-WA).

Purcell was part of a panel that included Terry Cross, CEO of the National Indian Child Welfare Association; Lupe Tovar, a former foster youth from Arizona; Ken Deibert, Deputy Director of Arizona's Department of Economic Security; and Gil Kerlikowske, Chief of Police, Seattle, Washington, representing Fight Crime: Invest in Kids.

Purcell highlighted provisions in the legislation that would eliminate the current federal foster care and adoption assistance eligibility, which is tied to the old AFDC cash assistance program; the extension of current Title IV-E funding to kinship care and guardianship placements; and an extension of those funds to tribal governments and communities. He expressed concerns about restrictions on the Medicaid program being proposed by the Administration. (See more information below.) He also expressed support by COFCCA and CWLA for extending federal foster care funding to age 21 and the need to strengthen the child welfare workforce.

In his opening remarks, McDermott indicated his desire to enact significant reforms in the current child welfare system. He also said he saw his bill "not as a final word on reforming child welfare, but as a first step toward developing a vision and consensus on how we can move forward." He said the bill was an effort to make a statement on what he really wanted and that in further discussions with members of the subcommittee from both parties they will work together to see what they can really accomplish in this Congress.

The subcommittee's ranking Republican, Representative Jerry Weller (R-IL), indicated his interest in seeking common ground on child welfare reforms. He referenced part of the CWLA testimony expressing support for extending current Title IV-E funds to allow states to use training dollars for private as well as public agencies. Weller thanked CWLA for its support of his legislation (H.R. 2314), which would amend Title IV-E foster care and adoption assistance in this way. He also said there was common ground in regard to the reauthorization of the adoption incentive fund and support for extending Title IV-E funds to tribal governments, other CWLA priorities.

During questions and answer, Purcell made a strong case for increased support for the child welfare workforce. H.R. 5466 would create a fund to allow applying states to design a workforce strategy to, in part, reduce caseloads and improve training. Purcell highlighted a recent New York survey that found with a caseload of about 20, a worker has an average of 60 minutes a month of face-to-face time for each case. That is far too little if we really want to expedite the services families need and discharge children to safe homes as quickly a possible.

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CWLA CEO Joins in Release of New Study of Youth in Foster Care

On February 26, CWLA President and CEO Christine James-Brown participated in a panel discussion at a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services forum on the release of Youth with Disabilities in the Foster Care System: Barriers to Success and Proposed Policy Solutions, a new report by the National Council on Disability.

James-Brown said compounding the problems of youth with disabilities in foster care are their real-life, daily health-related struggles. She referenced information that at least one-third of children in foster care have disabilities, ranging from minor delays to severe physical or mental conditions, and that 50%-80% of children in out-of-home care meet the clinical criteria for behavioral problems or a psychiatric diagnosis.

The report highlights the poor outcomes of youth with disabilities in foster care, especially with regard to education, employment, and other indicators of well-being. The council argues that although the federal investment in the multiple systems with which these youth come in contact is significant, challenges remain in the disconnectedness and lack of coordination across programs and agencies. The report describes various recommendations for federal and state policymakers, many of which are consistent with CWLA's legislative agenda.

View this report online.

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Governors Call on Congress to Delay Medicaid Rules

Many Governors voiced concern last week with the series of restrictive Medicaid regulations issued by the Bush Administration, including two rules that would impact the child welfare and foster care communities--one on the Rehabilitative Services option and another on the Case Management/Targeted Case Management (CM/TCM) option.

The Governors, in Washington, DC, for the winter meeting of the National Governors' Association, raised opposition to the Medicaid rules in a February 26 letter to Congressional leaders calling for a delay in implementing the pending Medicaid regulations. The letter, signed by Governors Tim Pawlenty (R-MN), Edward Rendell (D-PA), James Douglas (R-VT), and Jon Corzine (D-NJ), explained the rules "are a departure from past practices and reflect new and unsupported interpretations in Medicaid law." Governors made similar pleas for Congress to stop the Medicaid regulations at hearings before the Senate Finance and House Energy and Commerce Committees in the past week.

Federal officials estimate the string of rules would save the federal government $13 billion over five years, but many see this as a low estimate and, more importantly, a significant and overly burdensome cost shift to the states at a time when state economies are struggling.

Many members of Congress have been receptive to the notion of temporarily delaying some or all of the Medicaid rules. Last December, for example, at the behest of CWLA and others, Congress included and the President signed into law a moratorium on the Medicaid rehabilitative services regulation until June 30, 2008, in the SCHIP extension bill (S. 2499). Stand-alone bills to halt the CM/TCM rule (S. 2578/H.R. 5173) have been championed by Minnesota Senators Norm Coleman (R-MN) and Amy Klobuchar and Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN). The Senate recently added the CM/TCM moratorium to the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (S. 1200). This must still be reconciled with the House bill, and there is a serious timing issue, since the Administration stated the CM/TCM rule is effective today, March 3.

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Congressional Briefings Highlight Value of CM/TCM Services

CWLA helped organize Congressional briefings on February 27 to build support for a moratorium on proposed rules on Case Management and Targeted Case Management (CM/TCM). The briefings described the rules' negative impact on an array of vulnerable populations and included individuals representing state Medicaid programs, state child welfare directors, and the mental health, disability, and aging communities.

Stan Rosenstein, Chief Deputy Director of Health Care Programs for the California Department of Health Care Services, opened the briefings by pointing out not only is the rule a threat, but a at least seven regulations issued by the Administration would impede access to health care for millions of Medicaid beneficiaries.

John Folkemer, Deputy Secretary for Health Care Financing for the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said some activities and services currently provided in Maryland simply cannot be brought into compliance with the rule's stringent requirements and so will have to end. For example, Maryland provides health-related activities for foster care and child protective services to some 20,000 individuals, but under the rule, funding for this would likely be lost.

Similarly, Chris Copeland, Executive Director of Tri-West Mental Health Services in Lewiston, Maine, said that should the rule go into effect as written, Maine anticipates 400-450 children would lose contracted community-based services, and the state's Alternative Response Program--which had 3,848 referrals in 2007 and provided preventive intervention--would no longer be able to bill Medicaid TCM.

Steve Larson, Director of Public Policy for the Arc of Minnesota, described the extreme complications in meeting the rule's restrictive timeline for providing CM services to individuals transitioning from an institution to the community. Although a center he is familiar with found that it requires an average of 80 days and 59 hours of CM services to properly align community supports for individuals with disabilities, and current policy permits individuals to receive CM services during the last 180 days of an institutional stay, the rule would shorten that timeframe severely, to 14 or 60 days, depending on whether the individual had been in an institution for less or more than 180 days. Larson called the new requirement "arbitrary" and said it would hamper efforts to improve the individual's housing, community support, and quality of life.

The organizations sponsoring the briefing, including CWLA, hope the CM rule will be slowed down to ensure Congressional intent is upheld and vital legitimate Medicaid services are protected.

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CWLA Holds Successful 2008 Conference Focused on White House Conference

Nearly 1,000 people attended the 2008 CWLA National Conference, A Call To Action: Leading the Nation For Children and Families. The conference was the first for CWLA President/CEO Christine James-Brown and focused on CWLA's recent call for a restoration of the decennial White House Conference on Children and Youth. On Advocacy Day, Tuesday of the conference, hundreds of CWLA members took buses to Capitol Hill to ask members of Congress to sign on as cosponsors of H.R. 5461, legislation authorizing the conference, introduced by Representatives Chaka Fattah (D-PA) and Jon Porter (R-NV).

The CWLA annual conference included more than 36 regular workshops and 8 super sessions on a range of child welfare practice issues, policies, and advocacy topics. The keynote address on Tuesday was delivered by Virginia First Lady Anne Holton, who described her lifelong commitment to improving the lives of vulnerable children and youth. Holton remains dedicated to improving the welfare of Virginia's children and families and to see all Virginia children have the opportunity to reach their potential. In January 2007, she launched her signature initiative, "For Keeps: Families for all Virginia Teens." Through the initiative, she is focusing on helping Virginia find and strengthen permanent families for older children in foster care or at risk of entering foster care.

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CWLA Recognizes Members of Congress as Outstanding Advocates

Four leading Members of Congress were honored as outstanding children's advocates at the CWLA National Conference last week. The awardees were Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Representatives Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Jim Ramstad (R-MN), and Dennis Cardoza (D-CA).

Stabenow was recognized for her exceptional dedication to improving the physical and mental well-being of our nation's children and youth, as evidenced by her tireless work during the 110th Congress to strengthen the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

CWLA honored Fattah for his powerful initiative to reestablish the White House Conference on Children and Youth, which will refocus the nation's attention on our most vulnerable children and point the way toward significant reform and improvement in the child welfare system.

Ramstad has been a career-long proponent and lead sponsor of legislation that would establish systems of care to provide better mental health treatment for children at risk of entering or already in state custody, and a strong voice and champion of mental health parity legislation that would erase longstanding discrimination between mental health and medical conditions.

CWLA presented Cardoza with a special Congressional Voice for Youth Award for his personal and professional commitment to improving opportunities for children and youth in foster care and for also championing legislation that would expand Medicaid coverage until age 21 to youth aging out of the foster care system.

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HHS Releases Final Regulations on Chafee National Youth in Transition Database

On February 26, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued final regulations requiring states to collect and report data to ACF on youth who are receiving independent-living services and on the outcomes of certain youth who are in foster care or who age out of foster care.

The final rule implements the data collection requirements of the Foster Care Independence Act of 1999 (P.L. 106-169). That law required ACF to develop and implement a data collection system to track the independent-living services states provide to youth and to develop outcome measures that may be used to assess state performance in operating their independent-living programs.

CWLA submitted comments on the regulations in 2006; These comments are online.

Download the final regulation in PDF format.

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New CWLA Radio Blog, "Speaking for America's Children"

On the Line with CWLA is a thought-provoking, interactive, live Internet radio program focusing on subjects, stories, and strategies of special interest to child welfare policymakers, providers, and practitioners. The program, devoted solely 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 the Line with CWLA, go to www.blogtalkradio.com/CWLA-Radio.

The live program, hosted by broadcasting veteran Tony Regusters, is a production of CWLA that will provide a platform for CWLA member organizations, their staffs, its partners, and concerned citizens in the national community to share ideas and thoughts about critical issues that affect child welfare agencies, vulnerable children and teens, and their families.

The weekly subject-oriented, solutions-driven program will broadcast Wednesdays, 2:00-2:30 pm ET and feature indepth, timely discussions with leading child welfare experts, agents, and advocates; leadership and representatives from CWLA's member agencies; and local and national political figures working to improve child welfare and give a voice to child welfare professionals, providers, and practitioners nationwide.

Upcoming Shows

March 5
First in a four-part series focused on the child welfare workforce throughout March--National Professional Social Work Month. This week, On-the-Line with CWLA takes a look at one aspect of social work--a profession that is often misunderstood and misrepresented. Special guests engage in a timely discussion about the important role of the frontline child welfare workers who serve vulnerable children and families nationwide.

3/12/2008 Part 2: Public Policy Perspectives on the Child Welfare Workforce
3/19/2008 Part 3: Labor Pains: Strengthening The Child Welfare Workforce
3/26/2008 Part 4: Child Welfare Workers: Overworked and Underpaid

The call-in number is 347/326-9411. Visit www.blogtalkradio.com/CWLA-Radio.

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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

  • March 15-30: Congressional Spring Break
  • April 1: Start of Child Abuse Prevention Month
  • April 15: Target date to pass Congressional budget resolution
  • April 25: Children's Memorial Flag Day
  • 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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