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

   
   
Vol. 21, Issue 42: 11/10/2008   
Headlines

CWLA Congratulates President-Elect Obama and Looks Forward to New Administration

CWLA Sends Transition Paper to President-Elect Obama

Capitol Hill Celebration of Fostering Connections Act Set for November 19

New Congress Will Experience Changes

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

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 Congratulates President-Elect Obama and Looks Forward to New Administration

On November 5, CWLA President and CEO Christine James-Brown issued a press statement congratulating President-Elect Barack Obama, declaring, "Today's historic presidential election promises to bring change and a new beginning to the nation's children and families, particularly those in the child welfare system."

She went on to say, "President-Elect Obama exudes the type of leadership, dedication, and commitment necessary to address the needs of the neglected and abused children in this nation and we look forward to working with his administration and pushing forward on legislation paramount to the well-being of children, beginning with a 2010 White House Conference on Children and Youth."

CWLA also sent the President-Elect a transition briefing paper (see next article).

Read James-Brown's full statement.

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CWLA Sends Transition Paper to President-Elect Obama

On November 5, President-Elect Obama announced the selection of a transition team, moving quickly on a process intended to have key administration leaders in place when he takes the oath of office January 20. On November 7, CWLA sent its transition briefing document, Hope for America’s Children, Youth, and Families, to the President-Elect and his transition team.

The CWLA transition paper is the result of work conducted over the past half year reaching out to our membership across the country, and a review of our policies, practices, and advocacy over the past several years. Although this document was based on the work of the past several months, at its release here in November 2008, much has changed. At the end of summer, Congress enacted the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-351). More recently, the economic crisis has threatened the ability of state and local agencies, both public and private, to take advantage of the opportunities offered in the new legislation. Many, if not all, states soon will be considering significant budget cuts.

The CWLA transition paper makes two types of recommendations--short-term, which are actions the new administration may be able to take through regulation or guidance, and long-term, which may require legislation. We address five key areas of child welfare: preventing child abuse; permanency for children through reunification, adoption, and kinship care; access to health care, including mental health and substance abuse services for children and families in care; helping vulnerable young people in both foster care and juvenile justice; and the fundamental building blocks of the system, which includes issues such as workforce, data collection, immigration, and cultural competence. Read the document.

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Capitol Hill Celebration of Fostering Connections Act Set for November 19

On November 19, a group of more than a dozen national organizations, spearheaded by the PEW Charitable Trusts, will hold a celebration of the passage and enactment of the Fostering Connections Act, in recognition of the great congressional leadership that led to its passage.

The reception, which will take place 5:00-7:00 p.m. in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room G-11, is being coordinated by a planning committee that includes CWLA, the Alliance for Children and Families, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Center for Law and Social Policy, the Children's Defense Fund, Foster Club, Generations United, Pew's Kids Are Waiting, the National Indian Child Welfare Association, the North American Council on Adoptable Children, and Voices for America's Children.

Invitations have gone out to dozens of members of Congress who championed various elements of the child welfare bill. Key staff members who were so critical to enactment have also been invited. Participants will hear from caregivers, youth, and families impacted by the new law.

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New Congress Will Experience Changes

Final numbers on the new Congress have not yet been determined, as votes are still being counted or recounting in both the Senate and House races. At press time, however, it was clear the Democratic majority would increase in both houses.

In the Senate, Democrats will have at least 56 members if they continue to have the support of independent Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Still uncertain is the fate of Senators Ted Steven (R-AK), Gordon Smith (R-OR), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), and Norman Coleman (R-MN). In the case of Chambliss, Georgia law requires the winner to have at least 50% of the vote. Even though Chambliss won, if he fails to reach 50%, he must run again next month. In Minnesota, Coleman has a narrow lead that will require a recount. In Oregon, mail-in ballots were still being counted at the end of the week, and the final outcome is expected to be close. Likewise, ballots were still being counted in Alaska, where Stevens had a slim lead. Even if he were to win, however, it is questionable whether the Senate will seat him due to his recent conviction on financial improprieties.

In the House of Representatives, Democrats will increase from 236 members to 259, and Republicans will decrese from 199 to 176. These numbers could change slightly due to some close election results. A majority in the House is 218 members.

The changes in both houses will mean committee memberships will also change, with the number of Democrats on each committee increasing and the number of Republicans decreasing. In addition, the loss of certain members due to defeat or retirement will cause remaining members to seek changes in committee assignments.

One key congressional committee is already guaranteed a new look due to retirements. The Ways and Means Committee, which this year was instrumental in crafting the Fostering Connections Act, will have major turnover on at least the Republican side. Currently, the committee is split between 24 Democrats and 17 Republicans. Before the election, 6 of the 17 Republicans were not returning due to retirement or because they were running for other offices. This includes 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). Two Republican members of the committee were defeated: Representatives Phil English (R-PA) and Jon Porter (R-NV).

On the Democratic side, the committee tragically lost Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH) earlier this year as a result of a sudden illness. There were no retirements among Democrats on the committee. The committee will also lose Representative Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) as he becomes White House Chief of Staff in the Obama Administration in January.

Four Republican departures will require significant changes. McCrery is the ranking member or leader of the minority Republicans. 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. English and Porter were also on that subcommittee.

Other key committees in Congress that deal with child welfare issues include the House Education and Labor Committee, which will loose Representatives Randy Kuhl (R-NY) and Tim Walberg (R-MI); the Senate Finance Committee, which loose Senator John Sununu (R-NH) and Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR); and the Senate Health Education, Labor,and Pensions Committee, which faces at least one departure: President-Elect Barack Obama.

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

Come to Washington to see the new Congress and President in action! CWLA's National Conference on public policy, Children 2009: Children Today...America's Future, February 23-25, will provide attendees with 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.

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 (P.L. 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.

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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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

November 19
A Conversation with Former Foster Child, Reverend Darryl Armstrong

Join an an inviting one-on-one conversation with Reverend Darryl Armstrong, Founder and Chair of the National Association of Foster Children. Armstrong, an internationally and nationally acclaimed teacher, preacher, and motivational speaker is pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in Trenton, New Jersey.

Coming Shows

November 26
National Brand Embraces Adoption: Wendy's Works to Find Adoptive Families for Children in Foster Care

Join this enlightening discussion about the work of Wendy's Wonderful Kids, a signature program sponsored by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption that was created to provide for full-time adoption recruiters in cities throughout the United States and Canada to facilitate quickly moving thousands of children from foster care into loving, permanent homes.

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 17: Senate returns to formal session
January 3, 2009: Start of 111th Congress
January 20, 2009: Barack Obama sworn in as 44th President
March 6, 2009: Continuing resolution for FY 2009 expires


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