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

   
   
Vol. 22, Issue 12: 3/23/2009   
Headlines

First Six Months of IV-E Stimulus Funds Released to States

ARRA IV-E Funds Could Help in Implementing Fostering Connections Act

National Service Expansion Advances

Teen Pregnancy Rate Increases

Congressional Leaders Likely to Unveil Budget Resolution this Week

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



First Six Months of IV-E Stimulus Funds Released to States

On Monday, March 16, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the first allocation of Title IV-E funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Under ARRA, Title IV-E foster care maintenance, adoption assistance, and kinship guardianship assistance will benefit from an increased federal match of 6.2% for all 50 states. The increased match, similar to the increased match for Medicaid, is retroactive to October 1, 2008, and will last through December 31, 2010.

Currently, states receive a match in funding from 50% to nearly 80%. Every state's match will increase by 6.2 percent points, meaning that a state that normally receives a 50% match (one state dollar drawing one federal dollar) will now receive a 56.2% match. The increased Title IV-E match does not fully apply in California or Florida, where five-year waivers are in effect that allowed the states or parts of the states to block-grant funds as fixed allocations of Title IV-E funding. HHS has indicated those states could renegotiate possible changes.

The release of Title IV-E funds is for state claims from October 1, 2008, through the end of this month--the first two quarters of FY 2009. These increased funds may help forestall cuts in foster care and adoption assistance that some states are currently considering. The increased match applies only to maintenance payments, adoption assistance, and the new guardianship assistance.

A state's administrative costs remain at a 50% match for all states. There is no maintenance-of-effort requirement on the Title IV-E funds, but, under the increased match for Medicaid, a state may not reduce Medicaid eligibility coverage from what it was on July 1, 2008. If a state fails to meet that Medicaid requirement, it may also lose its claim to the increased Title IV-E funds.

A state that reduces its adoption assistance or foster care maintenance is passing up the opportunity to leverage more federal dollars while maintaining the same state level of spending. Another option is that a state could reduce its state spending slightly while still maintaining the same maintenance payments and adoption assistance.

Funds for fiscal relief are just beginning to flow from the economic recovery law; as they do, the Obama Administration is creating more websites that provide state-by-state breakouts of various allocations. Last week, the Administration created a website for funds from HHS. Some of the first funds from HHS are for community health centers. The flow of funds varies, with some requiring a state contribution or match, some allocated to each state, and other dollars designated for local programs.

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ARRA IV-E Funds Could Help in Implementing Fostering Connections Act

The increased match for Title IV-E programs, which covers October 1, 2008, through December 31, 2010, may also help in implementing the Fostering Connection Act (P.L. 110-351). The new law allows states to extend Title IV-E funds to some kinship families; this is a state option that began last October. Since this is under Title IV-E, a new state kinship program would also benefit from the 6.2% increase in federal funds.

Another provision of this new law is the gradual delinking of adoption assistance from the old AFDC program. Currently, families with special-needs adoptions are covered by federal funding only if those children qualify under the now nonexistent AFDC cash assistance program as it existed on July 16, 1996. The Fostering Connections Act gradually phases out this link, beginning October 1, 2009 (the start of FY 2010).

All special-needs children age 16 and older will be covered under federal funding. This coverage will expand gradually every year until all special-needs adoptions qualify for a federal share of the costs. This expansion is accomplished by lowering the age of qualifying children by two years with each new year of the program. For example, in FY 2011, children age 14 and older will qualify; in FY 2012, children age 12 and older will qualify.

Two other adoption initiatives begin on October 1. First, any child who has been in foster care for five years or more and is adopted will also be eligible for federal adoption assistance, regardless of the AFDC standards. Second, a sibling of a child who is covered by federal eligibility will be covered by federal adoption assistance, regardless of the AFDC link.

The new federal resources available under ARRA apply to each of these new adoption guidelines. By taking advantage of the new rules, states have an opportunity to increase their share of federal dollars for adoption services.

To a smaller degree, the state option to extend foster care to age 21 would also benefit from the increased match. That provision is scheduled to start October 1, 2010 (FY 2011), with the increased match in effect for three months.

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National Service Expansion Advances

On Wednesday, March 17, the House of Representatives, by a vote of 321-105 passed the Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education (GIVE) Act, H.R. 1388, which seeks to expand national service programs. The House Education and Labor Committee had approved the measure the week of March 9.

The GIVE Act will cost approximately $6 billion over the next five years. House members adopted some amendments to bring it closer to the Senate bill, the Serve America Act (S. 277), which the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee passed last week and sent to the Senate floor for debate.

Both bills would expand significantly the number of volunteers covered under the National and Community Service Act (from the current 75,000 to 250,000) and increase the education rewards for which volunteers become eligible. The bills also seek to focus more service work on pressing challenges, including addressing the drop-out crisis, safeguarding the environment, and others. Both bills enjoy broad, bipartisan support.

The Serve America Act includes language to study ways the federal government can interact more efficiently with nonprofit organizations to achieve better outcomes. It also would create a Community Solutions Funds Pilot program to increase private and public investment in nonprofit community organizations that are effectively addressing challenges and, in particular, to replicate and expand such initiatives. The GIVE Act includes a similar provision, creating a Social Innovation Fund to provide seed money and scale up innovative, evidence-based efforts in the nonprofit sector to address social problems.

Also on March 17, the White House issued an official Statement of Policy in support of H.R. 1388. President Obama expressed in the statement his commitment to promoting civic participation, as he did during the election campaign, and in doing so sent a strong signal he will sign the legislation into law soon after he receives it.

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Teen Pregnancy Rate Increases

The National Center for Health Statistics has released preliminary findings that, from 2006 to 2007, the teen birth rate increased 1%. All though small, this increase is notable because it is the second year in a row the teen birth rate has gone up after 14 years of consistent decline. In other words, after declining 34% between 1991 and 2005, since 2005, the birth rate has grown by 2% for mothers ages 15-19.

Except for Hispanic teens, whose rate declined by 2%, all racial and ethnic groups' teen birth rates increased. Many of those analyzing the data are quick to point out that no single factor causes the teen birth rate to rise. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and Child Trends suggest several reasons: teen birth rates across racial/ethnic groups are increasing, those groups with higher fertility are becoming a growing share of the teen population, a possible decrease in the use of contraceptives, socioeconomic changes, and differences in relationships and attitudes. The National Campaign suggests the nation continue to invest in comprehensive, evidence-based sex education and work to strengthen relationships so teens have a support network.

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Congressional Leaders Likely to Unveil Budget Resolution this Week

Now that both houses have held a series of budget hearings, they are expected to unveil their resolutions. The President released a broad outline early this month. Still unknown is whether the resolutions will include an instruction to adopt a reconciliation bill.

A reconciliation bill cannot be filibustered in the Senate, but, unlike the budget resolution, it would be an actual bill the President must sign.Such a process could be used to pass legislation on health care, global-warming, or other contentious issues. Some members of Congress are critical of such a possibility, arguing that reconciliation was designed to address deficit reduction. Most of this opposition has been on the Republican side, but some leading Democrats, including Senate Budget Committee Chair Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-MT), have expressed reservations about reconciliation.

Baucus has indicated he wants a health reform measure to be bipartisan. Without limitations provided by reconciliation, any health insurance reform would likely require 60 votes in the Senate, since any senator could stop a vote through filibuster. Past reconciliations have been used for deficit reduction legislation, its original purpose, but in the last decade and a half, it has been used for other controversial measures. It was used in 1996 to pass welfare reform and the enactment of TANF, and again in 2006 to reauthorize TANF as part of the 2005 Deficit Reduction Act. In addition, it was been used for the major tax cut legislation adopted during President George W. Bush's administration.

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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.

The weekly program broadcasts Wednesdays, 2:00-2:30 pm ET. To listen to On the Line with CWLA, go to www.blogtalkradio.com/CWLA-Radio. The call-in number is 347/326-9411. Programming schedule subject to change.

This Week's Show

Wednesday, March 25
Social Work: The Past, the Present, and What's Needed for the Future

Special guest: Katherine Briar-Lawson, State University of New York School of Social Welfare

Coming Shows


Wednesday, April 1
National Girl's Health Screen Project for Girls in Juvenile Detention Facilities


Wednesday, April 8
TBD


Wednesday, April 15
The Impact of Child Abuse and Neglect on the Community


Wednesday, April 22
The Impact of the Economic Downturn on the Delivery of Services: The Perspective of Public Agency Commissioners


Wednesday, April 29
The Impact of the Economic Downturn on the Delivery of Services: The Perspective of Private Agency CEOs


For more information, 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 your 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.

To subscribe to Legislative Alerts, visit www.cwla.org/advocacy/alerts.htm.

To subscribe to Children's Monitor, visit www.cwla.org/advocacy/monitoronline.htm.

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Key Upcoming Dates for Congress

March 3: Federal agencies begin reporting use of recovery package funds
April 1: Start of Child Abuse Prevention Month
April 6-17: Congressional Spring Recess
April 15: Target date to pass Congressional Budget Resolution
April 25: Children's Memorial Flag Day
May 3: Federal agencies begin Reporting on allocations of entitlement funds under the recovery plan
May 15: Detailed agency financial reports under recovery plan released
May 15: Target date for House to begin passage of 12 appropriations bills
May 20: Competitive grants and contracts under recovery plan available
June 27: Target date for House to complete work on appropriations


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