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

   
   
Vol. 21, Issue 41: 11/3/2008   
Headlines

Election Day Is Here!

Ways and Means Faces Major Changes Regardless of Election

Ways and Means Hears Testimony on Second Stimulus Package

Advocacy Day Provides Chance to Talk to New Congress, Administration

Child Welfare in the New Administration

Join CWLA's Call for a White House Conference on Children and Youth

CWLA Legislative Alerts Available to Subscribers

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress



Election Day Is Here!

Tuesday November 4 is Election Day. Please be sure to vote if you haven't already, and urge everyone you know to do the same. Our children's future depends on it!

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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Ways and Means Faces Major Changes Regardless of Election

The election results tomorrow could cause significant changes in Congress, but one key committee is already guaranteed a new look due to retirements. The Ways and Means Committee, which this year was instrumental in crafting the Fostering Connection Act (P.L. 110-351), will have major turnover on at least the Republican side. Currently, the committee is split between 24 Democrats and 17 Republicans, a ratio that could change either way pending Tuesday's vote, but when the 111th Congress convenes in January, at least 6 of the 17 Republicans will not be returning. Six members have either retired or are running for another office.

Committee members leaving at the end of this Congress include Representatives Jim McCrery (R-LA), Jim Ramstadt (R-MN), Jerry Weller (R-IL), Kenny Hulshof (R-MO), Ron Lewis (R-LA), and Thomas Reynolds (R-NY). A few other members are facing tight reelection bids. On the Democratic side, the committee tragically lost Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH) earlier this year as a result of a cerebral hemorrhage, but no members are retiring, although some Democratic members also find themselves in tight races.

Two Republican departures will require a change in leadership. McCrery is the ranking Republican member. The next in line through seniority is Representative Wally Herger (R-CA), but he may be challenged by Representative David Camp (R-MI). On the key Income Security and Family Support Subcommittee, which wrote major parts of the Fostering Connections Act, Weller is retiring. He lent some important support to the child welfare bill and was a sponsor of legislation that extended federal training funds to private agencies, a provision that was included in the new law.

All retirements and possibly a few changes caused by election night results could cause a chain reaction of changes in both the full committee and the subcommittee.

Other committees that deal with child welfare issues include the House Education and Labor Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, and the Senate Health Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. Any dramatic changes in these committees would come about because of the election, since there are few retirements. The Senate Finance Committee, for example, which is the counterpart to Ways and Means, has no retirements.

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Ways and Means Hears Testimony on Second Stimulus Package

On October 29, the House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing entitled, "Economic Recovery, Job Creation and Investment in America." The committee heard testimony from two diverse panels that included the governors of New York and South Carolina; the mayor of Trenton, New Jersey; a Montgomery County, Maryland, COO; presidents of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the National Education Association; the executive director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; and a resident scholar from the American Enterprise Institute.

The hearing came as a response to the continuing economic instability and signs of a possible recession despite an initial economic stimulus package enacted in February (P.L.110-185) and a $700 billion rescue package just enacted in early October (P.L. 110-343). The hearing was exploratory in nature, with possible plans to consider a second stimulus package in Congress's November lame-duck session.

Testimony from both panels expressed concerns with growing state and city midyear budget deficits for FY2009, which in total are estimated at a minimum of $12.3 billion. Proposed solutions include fiscal relief for states in the form of short-term credit assistance, currently out of reach due to high costs or lack of willing creditors; temporary increases in the Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentage, and emergency block grant funding; increase in food stamps; a moratorium on outpatient health clinic regulations; changes in tax-exempt securities issued by state and local governments; expansion of unemployment insurance, and spending just over $40 billion on infrastructure investments, especially on projects currently awaiting funding and that would create the most jobs. South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford stood alone in his rejection of the second stimulus package as the ever-expanding and fiscally irresponsible hand of the federal government.

In her testimony, Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, called on Congress to provide "assistance to cash-strapped states so that they can provide important public services, such as quality public education and health care, and are not constrained at a time when these investments are needed most." Like several other panel members, Weingarten called on Congress to expand and raise unemployment insurance benefits and invest in federal infrastructure. Her solutions for fiscal relief to states included increasing the federal government's contribution to Medicaid to $35 billion, and a $20 billion increase for the Social Service Block Grant (Title XX), which is used for social service programs administered by the states.

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Advocacy Day Provides Chance to Talk to New Congress, 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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Child Welfare in the New Administration

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

November 5
The Future of Child Welfare in the Next Administration


CWLA Advocacy Codirectors Tim Briceland-Betts and John Sciamanna evaluate where the new Administration and new Congress will place child welfare on their new list of priorities.

Coming Shows

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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