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

   
   
Vol. 21, Issue 26: 7/14/2008   
Headlines

Senate Committee Increases PSSF by $10 Million

House Leadership Indicates a September Finish

CWLA Schedules Briefing on White House Conference for July 21

Briefing Addresses Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Teen Pregnancy

On the Line with CWLA, 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



Senate Committee Increases PSSF by $10 Million

Although it looks increasingly likely Congress will not complete appropriations before the start of the fiscal year on October 1, some good news came out of the Senate Appropriations Committee when it approved a bill to increase the Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) by $10 million. That brings total PSSF funding for the four core services to $378 million. PSSF had peaked in funding when it reached $405 million in 2003. Since that point, it has been reduced by across-the-board cuts and last year suffered a $25 million cut. The increase would reverse this long trend of reduced funding.

PSSF has a complicated mix of mandatory funds and discretionary (annually appropriated) funds. Mandatory funding includes $305 million for the four core services, $20 million for court improvement programs, and $40 million a year divided between workforce initiatives and substance abuse grants. The $305 million in mandatory funds is combined with the proposed $73 million in discretionary funds for four services: family preservation, family support, family reunification, and adoption promotion and support.

Funding for the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) remained largely the same. Basic state grants would receive approximately $26 million. Discretionary funding did go up by $2 million, for a total of $39 million, with the increase going toward the promotion of home visiting programs. Last year, $10 million was designated at the request of the administration for the promotion of home visitation programs. That total would go up to $12 million. Although the administration had singled out one model, the appropriations language emphasizes "evidence-based" home visitation models.

Other areas of appropriations that saw some increase included child care funding, which increased from $2.062 billion to $2.137 billion--an increase of $75 million, and an increase in Head Start from $6.877 billion to $7.104 billion--an increase of $226 million.

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House Leadership Indicates a September Finish

Last week, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) indicated the leadership still intended to complete the business of the 110th Congress by September 26, rejecting the notion of a post-election session. That would mean in all likelihood a continuing resolution that would provide temporary funding for the government from October 1 until at least the beginning of the next Congress in January 2009. The Senate has not indicated its target date for adjournment, but neither House has held a full debate on appropriations for 2009.

Progress came to a standstill on June 26 when the House Appropriations Committee began considering legislation for the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor-HHS). Ranking member Jerry Lewis (R-CA) offered an amendment to substitute appropriations for the Department of the Interior in an effort to raise the oil drilling issue. This maneuver caused Committee Chair David Obey (D-WS) to pull the legislation and stop the hearing. Subsequently, Obey indicated the need to have an understanding with the minority party before proceeding further.

The growing expectation is that most of the FY 2009 appropriations will be dealt with by a lame-duck Congress after the November elections. In all likelihood, that would mean that ultimately the President-elect would have some significant say on final appropriations for FY 2009.

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CWLA Schedules Briefing on White House Conference for July 21

On July 21, CWLA will hold House and Senate briefings on the legislation (H.R. 5461 and S. 2771) to reestablish a White House Conference on Children and Youth. Featured panelists include Bob Blancato, Executive Director of the 1995 White House Conference on Aging; L. Kenneth Fellenbaum, who was a delegate to the last White House Conference on Children in 1970 and is also CEO of CWLA member agency Boys and Girls Village in Milford, Connecticut; and Asia Moore and Mickelle Wortman, who were formerly in foster care and are current members of CWLA's National Foster Youth Advisory Committee. CWLA President and CEO Christine James-Brown will moderate the session.

The House briefing will be held at 11:00 a.m. in room 1116 of the Longworth House Office Building. The Senate briefing will be at 2:00 p.m. in room 188 of the Russell Senate Office Building. Representative Chaka Fattah (D-PA) is sponsoring and speaking at the House briefing for the House. He introduced H.R. 5461. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) is sponsoring the Senate briefing. She introduced S. 2771.

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Briefing Addresses Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Teen Pregnancy

On July 10, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, in conjunction with the Congressional Asian and Pacific American Caucus Health Task Force, the Congressional Hispanic Conference, and the Native American Caucus, hosted a briefing addressing racial and ethnic disparities in teen pregnancy.

Representatives Hilda Solis (D-CA), Danny Davis (D-IL), and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) presented on the effects of these disparities on their constituencies. Other speakers included Maria Echaveste, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, and Alvaro Simmons, the Chief Operating Officer of Mary's Center for Maternal and Child Care.

The speakers highlighted the disparities affecting minorities, especially Latina and African American teens, despite the decreasing rate of teen pregnancy. Although much progress has been made in decreasing not only teen pregnancy rates but also overall teen sexual activity, this progress has been stagnate, and in some cases reversed, for minorities. The speakers stressed that Latina and African American teen girls are more likely to become pregnant at least once before they are 20 years old.

The speakers also addressed current legislation in the House and Senate. The Communities of Color Teen Pregnancy Prevention Act of 2007 (H.R. 468/S. 1790) was introduced by Solis and Senator Barack Obama (D-IL). This legislation addresses the disproportionately higher rates of teen pregnancy in communities of color and would authorize grants for community and school-based intervention programs. The bill also includes funding for a multimedia campaign to educate youth and families on the consequences of teen pregnancy. This legislation has 57 cosponsors in the House and 2 in the Senate.

View more information on this briefing.

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On the Line with CWLA, 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.

Programming schedule subject to change.

This Week's Show

Wednesday, July 16
Dwindling Dollars: Eroding Foster Care Eligibility Standards


On the 12th anniversary of Congress's decision that eligibility for federal foster care assistance would be based on rules and income requirements in the old Aid to Families with Dependent Children Program (AFDC), join us for a timely discussion on the long, steady, and significant decline in federal support for children in foster care, recommendations to modernize and update the eroding eligibility standards, and news about recent action by Congress to address some of the eligibility problems.

View more information on the show.

Coming Shows

Wednesday, July 23
Indian Child Welfare: Meeting the Challenges in Tribal Communities


Two regarded Indian child welfare activists discuss the concerns, the challenges, and the efforts to improve policies and increase funding for services for American Indian and Alaskan Native children and their families.

Terry Cross, a member of the Seneca Nation of Indians, is the founder and Executive Director of NICWA.

David E. Simmons, NICWA's Director of Government Affairs and Advocacy, has 19 years of professional experience in child welfare services, primarily focused on Indian child welfare services and public policy affecting Indian children and families.

Wednesday, July 30
Disproportionality: A Disturbing Reality of Foster Care


Join us as we explore the issues of racial and ethnic disproportionality and disparity in foster care with Khatib Waheed, Senior Fellow, Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP), who will provide an overview of promising state and local strategies to address the inequities in the child welfare system. Waheed leads CSSP's involvement with the Casey-CSSP Alliance for Racial Equity in Child Welfare, established to develop and implement a national, multiyear campaign to address racial disparities and reduce the disproportionate representation of children from certain racial or ethnic communities in the nation's child welfare system.

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

On the Line with CWLA is a production of the Child Welfare League of America, Arlington, Virginia. Programming schedule subject to change.

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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

  • July 16: 12 years since foster care/adoption assistance eligibility frozen
  • August 9-September 7: Summer Recess
  • August 25-28: Democratic National Convention
  • September 1-4: Republican National Convention
  • September 26: House-scheduled end to 110th Congress
  • TBD: Senate-scheduled end to 110th Congress
  • November 4: Election Day


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