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

   
   
Vol. 21, Issue 40: 10/27/2008   
Headlines

Learn the Presidential Candidates' Stances on Child Welfare Before You Head to the Polls

Support Grows for Stimulus Package, FMAP Increase Still Possible

Advocacy Day Will Provide Chance to Talk to New Congress and Administration

Nebraska to Consider Limits to Safe Haven Law

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



Learn the Presidential Candidates' Stances on Child Welfare Before You Head to the Polls

On November 4, Americans will head to their polling places and elect the 44th President of the United States. For those interested in learning more about where Senators John McCain and Barack Obama stand on child welfare issues--including child abuse prevention, foster care, adoption, and improving conditions for at-risk youth--view this compilation of candidates' plans.

An independent report commissioned and released by First Focus, detailing the effect of McCain's and Obama's plans for children's health coverage and access is also a helpful education piece.

CWLA is nonpartisan and as such does not endorse, support, or oppose any candidate, campaign, or political party.

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Support Grows for Stimulus Package, FMAP Increase Still Possible

Last week, in testimony before the House Budget Committee, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke expressed support for a second economic stimulus package. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), and many others in the majority in Congress have been pushing for a broad stimulus focused on building infrastructure, creating jobs, and preventing the loss of health care and other vital services for vulnerable populations. Bernake's testimony is expected to provide a boost to such a plan.

Twenty-nine states anticipated shortfalls totaling $48 billion when enacting their FY 2009 budgets, and an estimated 22 states and the District of Columbia are currently facing mid-year budget shortfalls of at least $11 billion. When times are tight like this, states unfortunately often are forced to cut programs serving some of their most vulnerable residents.

At the end of September, trying to provide some assistance, the House passed a $60.8 billion economic stimulus package (H.R. 7110). The Senate, too, put together a $56.2 billion economic package (S. 3064), but failed to achieve the number of votes necessary to consider the bill. Both H.R. 7110 and S. 3064 contained a temporary increase in the federal match (the FMAP) for state-run Medicaid programs to help protect against states having to cut critical health services.

What would be in another attempted stimulus bill, and how large the package would be, is unclear, but many advocacy organizations, including CWLA, are urging Congress to again include a temporary increase to FMAP. Bernanke did not expressly urge inclusion of FMAP, but did testify that an injection of federal dollars to boost state services would aid the nation's faltering economy. After Bernanke 's testimony, the White House, which had been weary of a second stimulus package, made statements in favor of considering one.

Over the next weeks, the House and Senate will continue a series of hearings on the need for a second stimulus package and what its components should be. Also unclear is whether Congressional leaders would bring up stimulus bills in a special session after the November 4 election, when they would still be negotiating with the current President or whether they would wait until early next year when a new Administration has taken over.

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Advocacy Day Will Provide Chance to Talk to New Congress and Administration

CWLA's national conference on public policy, Children 2009: Children Today...America's Future, will be held February 23-25. It will provide one of the first opportunities to come to Washington under the new 111th Congress and the new President. CWLA encourages early registration and payment in advance. If registering on site, registration must be accompanied by a check, credit card, or signed purchase order authorizing conference registration payment. Preregistration (at the lower 2008 rates) ends on October 31, 2008; after that date, 2009 rates apply.

To preregister, submit nominations for CWLA's National Conference Awards, or sign up for a both in the exhibit hall, go to www.cwla.org/conferences/ShowConference.asp?CONF=NATIONAL&YEAR=2009. A full conference program will be available online by the first week in November.

Advocacy Day, held on the second day of the conference, gives attendees the opportunity to actively promote CWLA's 2009 priorities, which is sure to build on the progress made so far on CWLA's call to reestablish the White House Conference on Children and Youth. It will also be critical for members to attend because a new Administration will be following up on the implementation of the new Fostering Connections to Success Act (PL 110-351). Other issues Congress and the new Administration may be discussing include the elements of an economic recovery plan in light of the growing recession, the completion of the 2009 federal budget, and the need to reauthorize the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

Advocacy Day focuses on meeting with Members of Congress and their staff and the new Administration on the issues impacting children, youth, and families. Advocacy Day begins on the Tuesday of the conference with presentations by leaders in Congress on their priorities for 2009, and briefings by the CWLA Government Affairs staff. At lunchtime, participants go to specific state and regional caucuses to discuss the issues, talking points, advocacy tips, and more general information. In the afternoon, Advocacy Day participants take buses to Capitol Hill to meet with their Representatives and Senators.

We encourage everyone attending the conference to schedule meetings with their members of Congress for Advocacy Day, beginning in January, after the new 111th Congress convenes. Stay tuned for contact information and tips on arranging visits. In addition to the great opportunities on Advocacy Day, attendees will be able to attend a range of programs and policy sessions at the National Conference.

This will be an energizing conference and one of the most important advocacy events for child welfare in 2009! Don't forget to register online.

For more information about Advocacy Day, contact Cristina Fahrenthold, at cfahrenthold@cwla.org.

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Nebraska to Consider Limits to Safe Haven Law

Nebraska lawmakers will start their session in January with one proposal that would limit the safe haven law to newborns and another that would offer families of troubled older children a new way to seek help.

Nebraska's safe haven law says people cannot be prosecuted for leaving a child with a hospital employee on duty. Since September 1, 19 children have been dropped off by people wishing to use the law. Most of those left have been teens and preteens. None of the children have been an infant; two were from other states.

Every other state uses such laws for infants. Most limit their use to babies up to 30 days old. Sixteen limit their use to babies up to 3 days old. Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman indicated his support for limiting the law to newborns. He said the change is needed to deal with the unintended consequences of the current law. The Governor said the Legislature is prepared to make this change immediately at the beginning of the next legislative session or in a special session, if necessary.

Meanwhile, State Senator Brad Ashford of Omaha, Chair of the Nebraska Senate Judiciary Committee, said he plans to introduce a separate bill allowing families of troubled youngsters to apply through juvenile court to get services. People could file a "families in need of services" petition, seeking assistance. The court could order services if it determined that they were needed.

Under the plan, children in such cases would not need to become state wards, and the cost of services would be worked out in each case. Currently, families must ask a county attorney to file a petition to declare a child uncontrollable or make the child a ward of the state to get psychiatric services.

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On the Line with CWLA, Speaking for America's Children

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

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

October 29
Adapting Adoption: A Look at Gay and Lesbian Adoption Rights



Half a million children live in foster care in the United States, and more than 100,000 foster children await adoption. States must recruit parents who are interested and able to foster and adopt children. Three states restrict gay, lesbian, and bisexual (GLB) individuals or couples from adopting. Several states have or are considering policies that would restrict GLB people from fostering. Recent government surveys demonstrate many lesbians and gay men are already raising children, and nearly two million GLB people have considered adoption. This week's guests include Susan Sommer, Senior Counsel, Lambda Legal, and Robin McHaelen, Executive Director, True Colors.

Coming Shows

November 5
The Future of Child Welfare in the Next Administration


November 12
No Home for the Holidays


November 19
A Conversation with Reverend Darryl Armstrong


November 26
Dave Thomas Foundation's Wendy's Wonderful Kids Project


For more information on the show, visit www.cwla.org/newsevents/cwlaradio.htm.

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

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. CWLA is calling on Congress and the next President to reestablish this important policymaking tradition. The time to act is now. Your support and involvement are crucial.

You can support this effort by going to www.cwla.org/advocacy/whitehouseconf10.htm. There, you can sign on to support CWLA's call for a White House Conference in 2010, let you members of Congress know of your support, complete a survey about what areas you would like to see such a White House Conference focus on, see which members of Congress are cosponsoring the authorizing legislation for a White House Conference, learn how to get your board to pass a resolution supporting this effort, and more!

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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

November 4: Election Day
November 17: Senate returns to formal session
January 3, 2009: Start of 111th Congress
January 20, 2009: New President sworn in
March 6, 2009: Continuing resolution for FY 2009 expires


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