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

   
   
Vol. 21, Issue 27: 7/21/2008   
Headlines

CWLA Holds Hill Briefings on White House Conference

Panel Examines New Safety Net for Low-Income Families

Briefing Addresses Children in the Federal Budget

Health Hearings on the Hill

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



CWLA Holds Hill Briefings on White House Conference

CWLA will hold House and Senate briefings today on the legislation (HR 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; Rev. L. Kenneth Fellenbaum, who was a delegate to the last White House Conference on Children in 1970 and is the CEO of Boys and Girls Village in Milford, Connecticut, and a member of CWLA; and Asia Moore and Mickelle Wortman, who were formerly in foster care and are 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), who introduced H.R. 5461, is sponsoring and will be speaking at the House briefing. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), who introduced S. 2771, is sponsoring the Senate briefing.

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Panel Examines New Safety Net for Low-Income Families

On July 16, the Urban Institute hosted a policy forum on A New Safety Net for Low-Income Families: Economic Security and Healthy Child Development. The panel discussed the current economic climate, the challenges facing low-income working families, and the overarching policy implications on both the federal and state levels. Panelists included Shelley Waters Boots, Senior Fellow at the Urban Institute and author of the report; Ellen Bravo, coordinator of the Multi-State Working Families Consortium; G. William Hoagland, Vice President of Public Policy at CIGNA Corporation; and David Wessel, economic editor of the Wall Street Journal.

Shelley Waters Boots's report is on family income within the context of child development, focusing on what it takes for parents to give their children what they need. Boots introduced three policy proposals at the panel: ensuring children have quality care while their parents are at work, funding comprehensive family support programs, and a policies addressing parents' need to be with their children, including paid sick leave and workplace flexibility.

In response to these proposals, Hoagland, who was a top aide to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), said the most important legislative goal is to make children a priority. He said, "The first step in doing this is the legislation going through Congress now that would reestablish the White House Conference on Children and Youth." He went on to discuss the first conference in 1909, stating the importance of family in the lives of children has remained unchanged.

Hoagland also discussed funding options for these policies, expressing that increasing the domestic budget is a "daunting task" because of the fragile economy. Responding to the funding question, Wessel suggested tax reform and individual and state incentive plans as viable options. Wessel stressed the bolsa familia policies modeled after Brazil that are now in affect in New York City as a way of combining parental and government involvement in the lives of families.

View the report online.


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Briefing Addresses Children in the Federal Budget

On July 11, First Focus, in conjunction with the Urban Institute and the New America Foundation, hosted a briefing to discuss key findings from Kids' Share 2008 and Children's Budget 2008, two reports highlighting current spending trends on children in the federal budget.

Speakers included Urban Institute Senior Fellow Eugene Steuerle: David Gray, Director of the Workforce and Family Program at New America; First Focus President Bruce Lesley; and Julia Isaacs, Child & Family Policy Fellow at Brookings Institute.

Steuerle pointed out federal spending on children's programs makes up only 10% of the entire nondefense budget. Although children's spending rose slightly from 2004 to 2008, Medicaid payments account for most of this increase, resulting in no real gain. Additionally, real discretionary spending on children has declined by 6.7% since 2004, while all other nondefense discretionary spending has increased by more than 8%. Steuerle also discussed difficulties for future budgets amidst the growing debt, premarked revenues, and the orientation of budgets toward the end of life cycle. "Revenues have been claimed, and children must fight for the leftovers. We promised so much to ourselves, not children," he said.

Gray and Lesley stressed the importance of reinvesting in children now for greater returns in the future. Outcomes for children are affected when public programs are reduced within the federal budget. Lesley highlighted Children's Budget 2008 findings that investments in education have declined 10%, school health programs 17%, and youth training 15%. At the same time, previous years of downward trends for teen pregnancy and single-headed households are in jeopardy, as figures in both areas are on the rise. "We are shortchanging our children," Lesley said, "and our national priorities do not reflect the interest of children." Although children make up a quarter of our population, "out of every dollar spent by the federal government, only 10 cents goes to children."

Gray urged organizations and citizens to help raise the profile of children within the federal budget.

For more information about First Focus' Children's Budget 2008, visit www.firstfocus.net/pages/3391. View more information on the Urban Institute and New America Foundation's Kids' Share 2008.

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Health Hearings on the Hill

The House Committee on the Budget heard testimony on Wednesday July 16 regarding the value of federal spending on health care. Peter R. Orszag, Director of the Congressional Budget Office, testified the evidence for inefficiency suggests an opportunity to reduce health costs without adversely affecting health outcomes. He noted much regional disparity, with some regions appearing more prone to adopt low-cost, highly effective patterns of care, while others are more prone to adopt high-cost patterns of care and deliver treatments that provide little benefit.

Pathways for improving efficiency, Orszag continued, include generating more information about the relative effectiveness of alternative medical treatments, as well as changing incentives for health care providers and consumers. He also noted a need for price transparency for specific medical services to improve efficiency.

Jeanne M. Lambrew, Associate Professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin, and Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress, suggested a value-oriented infrastructure, which consists of quality, cost-effective care, networks for transferring these standards throughout the system, and policies for their adoption. The policies to create an infrastructure for a value-oriented system allows for a mix of public and private insurance.

David Gratzer of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research viewed America's largely employer-sponsored health system as bureaucratic and wasteful. He proposed a health care system where patients and providers were able to seek excellence and value, suggesting a strongly consumer-oriented choice model.

Two other health-related hearings were held on Capitol Hill last week. On July 15, House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chair Pete Stark (D-CA) called a hearing to discuss state coverage initiatives and how the federal and state governments could move forward to insure more Americans. On July 17, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on innovative ways to improve health care quality.

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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 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.

View more information on the show.

Coming Shows

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

  • August 9-September 7: Congressional Summer Recess
  • August 25-28: Democrats Hold Convention
  • September 1-4: Republicans Hold Convention
  • September 26: House Scheduled End to 110th Congress
  • TBD: Senate Scheduled End to 110th Congress
  • November 4: Election Day


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