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

   
   
Vol. 21, Issue 21: 6/9/2008   
Headlines

New Research, CWLA Briefing Supports Kinship Legislation

Grassley Works to Build Support on Kinship Bills

Supplemental Appropriations Stumbles as House Leaders Consider Removing Some Medicaid Moratoria

Briefing Set for MEPA Report

Budget Resolution Passes

CWLA Radio, 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



New Research, CWLA Briefing Supports Kinship Legislation

On June 2, CWLA joined with longtime allies on kinship care to sponsor two briefings on the positive effects of kinship care. The briefing, moderated by CWLA President and CEO Christine James-Brown, highlighted new research by David Rubin from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia that compares children who enter kinship care with those who remain in foster care.

Rubin studied children from three groups: those who remained in foster care, those who entered kinship care at the outset of a placement, and those went went from foster care to kinship care at a later period. The study, Impact of Kinship Care on Behavioral Well-being for Children in Out-of-Home Care, found that children in kinship care had fewer behavioral problems three years after placement than those children in foster care after an equal time frame.

Also making presentations were family therapist and consultant Joe Crumbley, and grandparent caregiver Vern Mack, also from Pennsylvania. Crumbley relayed his experiences as a family therapist in Philadelphia and his work with kinship families. He described the changing landscape and how important kinship care has become as part of a continuum of care and an option for the child welfare system. Mack described her personal experiences in raising her grandson and the challenges she faced in getting custody of her son's child.

James-Brown said, "This research adds to a growing body of evidence that if we are truly interested in providing the more than 500,000 children in foster care the stability received from a loving and permanent family, then federal policy must do much more to help support kin families."

CWLA was joined by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Children's Defense Fund, the Center for Law and Social Policy, and Generations United in sponsoring the briefing. Congressional hosts included Representatives Danny Davis (D-IL) and Tim Johnson (R-IL) for the House briefing, and Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) in the Senate.

Davis and Johnson have introduced H.R. 2188, the Kinship Caregivers Support Act, which has 78 sponsors, and Clinton and Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) have introduced the Senate version, S. 661, which has 30 cosponsors. Materials from the briefings, including PowerPoint presentations, press statements, and flyers, are available on CWLA's website.

Back to Headlines

Grassley Works to Build Support on Kinship Bills

During the of June 2 kinship care briefings, CWLA President Chris James-Brown highlighted the fact that, in addition to the two major kinship bills, S. 661 and H.R. 2188, two other significant bills have been introduced that would expand kinship care.

Representative Jim McDermott (D-WA) introduced the Invest in KIDS Act, H.R. 5466, in February. This bill is a comprehensive child welfare bill and now has 25 supporters in the House. McDermott has indicated the bill will not pass in its original form, and he will attempt to use the bill as a vehicle for bipartisan agreement on child welfare.

The second bill was introduced in May by Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), the Improved Adoption Incentives and Relative Guardianship Support Act, S. 3038. Grassley is the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over kinship care. His legislation would make several changes, including reauthorizing the adoption incentive program and extending federal Title IV-E funding to kinship placements. CWLA has endorsed this bill.

On May 30, Grassley sent a Dear Colleague letter to his fellow Senators asking for their support.

Back to Headlines

Supplemental Appropriations Stumbles as House Leaders Consider Removing Some Medicaid Moratoria

At week's end, the House leadership was still attempting to craft a war supplemental funding bill that satisfied all factions, including the White House. The Democratic leadership was removing almost all additional spending from the bill beyond the war funding and education benefits for war veterans. This included removing an extension of unemployment insurance benefits. Fiscally conservative "Blue Dog" Democrats were objecting to any new costs that weren't paid for. The veteran's benefits could cost up to $50 billion over 10 years, but the Senate has resisted paying for the benefits.

The House leadership was also reducing the number of regulatory freezes on Medicaid they would include in the bill. They were proposing to keep in place only four of the seven moratoria on the Administration's regulations. One such proposal would allow the White House to go forward on the regulations on targeted case management (TCM) but keep in place the moratorium on rehabilitative services. By the end of the week, however, Senate leaders were saying that all seven of the moratoria, along with the extension of unemployment benefits, must stay in the bill.

The effort to freeze all seven Medicaid regulations has been strong up to this point. On May 15, with a vote of 256-166, the House added an amendment containing the Medicaid rules moratorium to its war supplemental package. Just a week later, on May 22, the Senate, with a powerful, veto-proof vote of 75-22, similarly added an amendment containing the Medicaid rules moratorium to its war supplemental. Whatever the House approves will have to go back to the Senate again for its approval.

President Bush has already issued veto threats on the earlier House and Senate versions of the supplemental for a variety of reasons. Despite this possibility, CWLA continues to urge that legislation delaying the controversial Medicaid rules be adopted in a speedy manner, as some of the rules, including the case management/TCM services rule, are currently in effect or simply not under moratoria. Other rules' moratoria are about to expire, such as the moratorium on the rehabilitative services rule, which expires June 30.

In reaction to the rules and their planned implementation dates, some state agencies and organizations that care for abused, neglected, and otherwise troubled youth are already beginning to eliminate effective services and programs, shut down treatment centers, and/or cut caseworker positions, where severe shortages already exist. A moratorium signed into law would ensure such services don't end prematurely, and children and youth are not unduly harmed.

In these seemingly final hours in the push to secure a moratorium, please urge your lawmakers to keep the Medicaid moratorium in the supplemental appropriations bill to be sent to the President.

Back to Headlines

Briefing Set for MEPA Report

On June 10, a briefing called "Finding Families for African American Children: The Role of Race and Law in Adoptions from Foster Care" will focus on a new report issued recently by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. The report calls for reforms in the Multi-Ethnic Placement Act (MEPA) to improve prospects for the adoption of children of color. Since the report has been issued, some press accounts have glossed over the recommendations and described the report as calling for stepping away from transracial adoptions.

MEPA was enacted in 1994. The legislation addresses a concern that children were being denied placements due to an over-reliance on policies that emphasized placements that took into account the racial and ethnic makeup of prospective adoptive families. MEPA prohibits states and entities from denying to any individual the opportunity to become a foster or adoptive parent "solely" on the basis of the prospective parent's or the child's race, color, or national origin. MEPA also requires states to diligently recruit foster and adoptive parents who reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the children in the state who need foster and adoptive homes. The bill was amended in 1996 to remove the word solely.

The Donaldson Institute's report recommends that reforms be enacted including an emphasis that adoption-related laws, policies, and practices reinforce that a child's best interest must be paramount. It also calls for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to do a better job of enforcing provisions that call for greater recruitment of families with racially and ethnically diverse populations, and to provide greater post-adoption services to adoptive families from placement through adolescents.

In addition to the Evan B. Donaldson Institute, the briefing is cosponsored by CWLA, the Adoption Exchange Association, the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, the Dave Thomas Foundation, Foster Care Alumni of America, the National Association of Black Social Workers, the National Association of Social Workers, the North American Council for Adoptable Children, and Voice for Adoption.

Back to Headlines

Budget Resolution Passes

Late last week, both the Senate and House gave their final approval to a joint budget resolution for federal fiscal year 2009 (S. Con. Res. 70). The budget resolution provides approximately $25 billion more than the President requested. Most of that would go toward domestic spending outside of the Defense Department.

Even with that increase, the $3 trillion budget would barely track an adjustment in inflation. The President's proposal would result in cuts in domestic spending and increase the Defense budget to $515 billion, but it does not include funding the cost of the war.

Progress picked up on negotiations for the budget resolution after a deal was reached with the House "Blue Dog Democrats," a group of 49 fiscally conservative Democrats. The resolution would not include reconciliation, as the Blue Dogs had wanted, but would require a Senate point of order on spending more than $10 billion if it is not paid for.

One of the major points of contention in the budget is the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). The AMT was designed to ensure wealthy taxpayers paid an income tax. It is affecting more and more middle income taxpayers in recent years, so Congress has been passing one-year changes that exempt certain taxpayers for one year. The cost of the changes is approximately $55 billion to $70 billion per year.

Requiring a Senate point of order would mean passing such an AMT fix would require 60 Senate votes. In an election year, the AMT fix would likely have enough votes to pass without being offset. Such a point of order would also make it unlikely any other spending would be enacted without cuts in other areas or changes in the tax code to raise revenue.

Passing a budget resolution generally speeds up some of the appropriations debates, but the likelihood is that only a few appropriations bills will be passed this year, and that most spending, including money for the Department of Health and Human Services, will be left for the new President to decide after November, and perhaps as late as next January.

Back to Headlines

CWLA Radio, 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.

Upcoming Shows for June

For its first three shows in June, On the Line focuses on incarcerated parents and their children in a series of timely, provocative discussions.

Wednesday, June 11

Action on the Hill: Second Chances for Parents after Incarceration


Nearly 700,000 inmates are released from prison to communities each year. An estimated two-thirds will be rearrested for a felony or serious misdemeanor within three years of release. Such high recidivism rates translate into thousands of new crimes each year, at least half of which could be averted through improved prisoner reentry efforts.

On April 9, 2008, President Bush signed the Second Chance Act of 2007. The Second Chance Act will help the thousands of inmates released from prisons every year break the cycle of crime and incarceration and become law-abiding citizens and contributing members of their communities.

On the Line with CWLA talks with Imani Walker, Cofounder and Director of the Rebecca Project for Human Rights, and Darla Bardine, Associate Policy Director and Family Treatment Coordinator for the Rebecca Project, a national organization that advocates for public policy reform, justice, and dignity for vulnerable families. The Rebecca Project has been a leading advocate for the Second Chance Act, which will fund vital programs and support services, like comprehensive family treatment that will offer help and hope to ex-offenders.

Wednesday, June 18

Fragile Family Ties: Children with Parents in Prison


More than 6 million children have parents under some form of correctional supervision in the criminal justice system, either in prison, in jail, on probation, or on parole. That figure includes 2 million children with a father or mother in prison. Since women are usually the primary and sometimes sole caregivers of their children before incarceration, the escalating numbers of children with mothers in prison is becoming a mounting challenge for the child welfare system.

On the Line with CWLA engages three leading activists in a moving discussion about the needs and emotional experiences of children with incarcerated parents:

Reverend Wilson Goode, the son of an incarcerated father, and National Director of the acclaimed Amachi Program, a national faith-based mentoring model for children of incarcerated parents; Ann Adalist-Estrin, a nationally renowned and respected expert on the children and families of prisoners, and Director of the National Resource Center on Children and Families of the Incarcerated for the Family Corrections Network; and Hakim Ali, a cast member of Holding Up: A Prison Legacy, a riveting theatrical production of TOVA Artistic Projects for Social Change, which features his true-to-life story as an incarcerated father of 14 children and the effect of nearly 40 years of imprisonment in federal and state correctional institutions.

Wednesday, June 25

Teen Talk: Are Adults Making the Grade?


June marks the end of school, graduation, and final grades. For its last program of the month, On the Line looks at the annual UCAN (Ulrich Children's Advantage Network) Teen Report Card on Adults, which provides an opportunity for teens to turn the tables and grade the adults who are typically grading them.

UCAN conducts the annual nationwide survey of more than 1,000 teens nationwide, ages 12-19, asking them to grade the adults in their lives--A through F--in 20 key areas, such as providing a quality education for young people, creating job opportunities for the future, teaching positive values, leading by example, running the government, spending time with their families, keeping schools safe from violence and crime, really listening to and understanding young people, and helping young people cope with the challenges of the teenage years.

Grades and teen focus group recommendations are released at the close of the school year--the same time millions teens are receiving their own school report cards.

Teens surveyed in the 2007 Teen Report Card gave an average overall grade of C to adults. The annual Teen Report Card is intended to serve as a catalyst to inspire dialogue between adults and youth about the problems that affect teens in our society, and a public voice to the ideas and opinions of teens about the adults who influence their lives.

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

Back to Headlines

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.

Back to Headlines

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.

Back to Headlines

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress

  • June 27: Target date for House to complete work on appropriations
  • June 29-July 6: July 4th Congressional break
  • July 16: 12 years since foster care/adoption assistance eligibility frozen
  • August 9: Start of summer recess
  • November 4: Election Day


Back to Headlines

Click here to see the list of previous issues

If you know of others who would like their names added to this list, please have them visit www.cwla.org/advocacy/monitoronline-optin.htm. To remove yourself from this list, send an e-mail to monitor@cwla.org with "Remove from Monitor Online List" in the subject line.

© Child Welfare League of America. The content of this publication may not be reproduced in any way, including posting on the Internet, without the permission of CWLA. For permission to use material from CWLA's website or publications, contact us using our website assistance form.