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

   
   
Vol. 21, Issue 15: 4/21/2008   
Headlines

Clinton and Obama Join White House Conference Legislation

House Committee Passes Medicaid Rules Bill 46-0; Administration Hints at Veto

Courtney Recognizes Child Abuse Prevention Month with Resolution

Capitol Hill Briefing on Indian Child Welfare Issues

CWLA Joins Catholic Charities in Briefing on Youth and Poverty

CWLA Supports National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day, May 8

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



Clinton and Obama Join White House Conference Legislation

On April 15, Senators Barrack Obama (D-IL) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) added their prominent names as cosponsors of S. 2771, legislation to call a White House Conference on Children and Youth. With the election of the next President likely to come from one of three United States Senators, the support of Obama and Clinton is very significant. Also significant is the news two weeks ago that Representative George Miller signed on as cosponsor of the companion bill in the House (H.R. 5461). As Chair of the House Committee on Education and Labor, which has jurisdiction over the legislation, he will have particular influence over the bill.

The legislation, introduced in the Senate by Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Chuck Hagel (R-NE), and in the House by Representatives by Chaka Fattah (D-PA) and Jon Porter (R-NV) would reestablish the decennial event that took place every 10 years from 1909 to 1970. The conference would focus on child welfare but encompass a range of children's issues, including prevention, intervention and out-of-home care.

In recognizing the addition of the two presidential candidates, CWLA President and CEO Christine James-Brown noted, "Obama and Clinton's support sends a clear message that advocacy on behalf of vulnerable children and youth is critical, and that the needs of children should be a priority for all Americans."

The Senate bill currently 13 sponsors, and the House bill has 46.

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House Committee Passes Medicaid Rules Bill 46-0; Administration Hints at Veto

On April 16, just a week after its Subcommittee on Health passed the Protecting the Medicaid Safety Net Act of 2008 (H.R. 5613) by voice vote, the full House Energy and Commerce Committee passed the measure 46-0. H.R. 5613 would place a one-year moratorium on seven Medicaid regulations issued by the Bush Administration, including rules that threaten the future of rehabilitative services and case management/targeted case management (CM/TCM) services for children and youth involved in the child welfare and foster care systems, and several other vulnerable populations. The intent behind the moratorium is to give Congress time to determine whether the rules are in line with Congressional intent and whether they are the best policy decisions for Medicaid beneficiaries.

At the subcommittee markup, a substitute offered by full Committee Chair John D. Dingell (D-MI), and carefully agreed to by both sides of the aisle, was adopted to clarify the scope of the moratorium; require HHS to explain justification for the rules; require an independent body to conduct impact analyses of the rules; and provide additional funding to HHS in the amount of $25 million per year to fight fraud and abuse in the Medicaid program. The bipartisan ushering through of this legislation continued at the full committee markup, as Dingell again offered a manager's amendment that had been worked out with the minority to address concerns. Amendments were offered but withdrawn, and the committee voted unanimously to approve the updated bill.

The day before the full committee markup, HHS Secretary Michael O. Leavitt sent a letter to Dingell and Ranking Member Joe Barton (R-TX) stating that "if [H.R. 5613] were presented to the President in its present form, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill." Barton was quoted shortly thereafter, however, that "his veto would be overridden and I would vote to override the veto." Dingell hopes to move H.R. 5613 to the House floor quickly.

A similar bill in the Senate, S. 2819, which CWLA also supports, is being championed by Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME), and Edward Kennedy (D-MA). In addition to delaying the seven Medicaid regulations as the House bill would, S. 2819 would also postpone the August 17, 2007, policy directive issued by CMS that restricts states' ability to cover children in families above 250% federal poverty level through their SCHIP programs and a rule granting significant discretion to HHS in reviewing decisions of the Departmental Appeals Board.

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Courtney Recognizes Child Abuse Prevention Month with Resolution

On April 14, Representative Joe Courtney (D-CT) introduced H. Res. 1097, recognizing April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month. The resolution, on which CWLA offered assistance, calls on Congress to recognize the role that prevention can have in reducing abuse and neglect. In his remarks, Courtney noted the work of his wife, who is a pediatric nurse and part of a multidisciplinary team that addresses complaints of abuse and neglect. CWLA has been taking a number of steps this month to recognize April as National child Abuse Prevention Month, including featuring radio interviews on its Internet radio program, and encouraging the nation's governors to fly the Children's Memorial Flag.

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Capitol Hill Briefing on Indian Child Welfare Issues

On April 14, through the support of Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics hosted a briefing on American Indian and Alaskan Native (AI/AN) children and youth. CWLA joined other organizations, including the National Child Abuse Prevention Coalition, Kids Are Waiting, Voices for America's Children, and other national partners in cosponsoring the event.

Panelists, who articulated the need for service reform and improvements, included Dolores Subia Bigfoot, Codirector of Indian Country Child Trauma Center, and Assistant Professor of Research, Department of Pediatrics, University of Oklahoma Health Services Center; NICWA Executive Director Terry Cross; pediatric internist Kansas DuBray, Wisconsin; pediatrician Benjamin Hoffman, University of Washington Medical Center; Kelley Moore, Chair, American Indian/Alaska Native Work Group; and foster youth Tamika Wilder.

Bigfoot noted, "AI/ANs are more likely to have exposure to trauma than members of more economically advantaged groups, and Native American families had the highest referral rates for sexual abuse, physical abuse, and neglect relative to other ethnic categories." Moore identified historical and cultural issues that have had and continue to have an impact on tribal communities. One cultural issue is the stigma attached to being a victim among AI/AN populations, which may impede child abuse and neglect reporting and investigation.

This briefing also drew attention to legislative proposals that would benefit the tribal community, including the Tribal Foster Care and Adoption Access Act of 2007 (S. 1956/H.R. 4688), the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (S. 1200/ H.R. 1328), the Invest in Kids Act (H.R. 5466), the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Act, and the Indian Health Service Program. These proposals would improve federal policy investment in child protection services, prevention, foster care and adoption support, and health care services to the native groups.

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CWLA Joins Catholic Charities in Briefing on Youth and Poverty

On April 15, Catholic Charities USA and CWLA held a briefing in the House of Representatives on Youth and Poverty. The briefing called on Congress to enact holistic policies to reduce poverty among America's youth. The policy areas highlighted in order to reduce poverty were foster care, kinship care, and juvenile justice. Reverend Larry Snyder, President of Catholic Charities USA, facilitated the briefing. Christine James-Brown participated in the briefing. She was joined by two grandmothers raising grandchildren, a youth, and Catholic Charities staff members from Hartford, CT and New York City. The panelists effectively honed in on the importance of effective policies to addressing youth aging out of foster care, supports for kinship caregivers, afterschool programs, as well as funding restorative justice programs when working with misguided youth. Meanwhile, Christine drew attention to the importance of reestablishing the White House Conference on Children & Youth, as a means of focusing the nation's attention on addressing poverty, since it is highly associated with child abuse and neglect.

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CWLA Supports National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day, May 8

CWLA is joining with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to support the third annual National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day on May 8. Awareness Day is an opportunity for SAMHSA, SAMHSA-funded communities, and partner organizations such as CWLA to promote positive youth development, resilience, recovery, and the transformation of mental health services delivery for children and youth with serious mental health needs, and their families.

The theme for this year's Awareness Day is Thriving in the Community, highlighting that high school youth who receive the services they need are more likely to have positive outcomes such as better grades and higher rates of education, and less likely to have negative outcomes such as involvement with the juvenile and criminal justice systems.

Moderate to severe mental health and behavioral problems affect 50%-80% of children in out-of-home care. Despite the disproportionate need, some estimate only about 25% of children in foster care receive mental health services at any given time. Consequently, CWLA and our members have long been committed to better addressing the mental health care needs of children and youth in the child welfare system and to the system of care philosophy in child mental health services.

CWLA has several resources available, including the September/October 2007 special issue of Child Welfare Journal focusing on effectively addressing mental health in child welfare practice and the CWLA Standards of Excellence for Health Care Services for Children in Out-of-Home Care. CWLA is also actively involved in several pressing children's mental health policy issues, including preserving access to vital Medicaid services through the Rehabilitative Services option and achieving mental health parity.

For more information about what your community and organization can do to support National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day on May 8, visit SAMHSA's website.

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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 call-in number is 347/326-9411.

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.

This Week's Show

April 23, Family Matters: Kinship Caregivers Nationwide Convene at the Capitol

On Wednesday, May 7, grandparents and other relatives raising the children of family members will converge at noon on the West Grassy Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, for the third annual Grand Rally. This historic gathering of kinship caregivers from across the country is a call to action for increased support services and financial resources for kinship caregiving--a parental paradigm that allows children to live with and be cared for by their kin in a safe and stable family environment that maintains their well-being.

In support of the coming Grand Rally at the Capitol, this week's program features a timely discussion to raise awareness about the tireless efforts and imperative needs of kinship caregivers--family members who care for millions of children when their parents are unable to do so.

Coming Next Week

April 30, The Health Care Needs of Children in Foster Care

Join us for a lively discussion with experts on legislative actions regarding the the health care needs of children living in foster care. Note: The previously schedule show regarding children with parents in prison has been rescheduled for June.

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

  • April: Child Abuse Prevention Month
  • 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
  • June 29-July 6: July 4th Congressional Break


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