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

   
   
Vol. 22, Issue 19: 5/18/2009   
Headlines

Administration Releases Complete Details on Budget

Budget Proposes Community-Based Innovation

CWLA Submits Comments on New Tribal Title IV-E

CWLA Shares Recommendations for Health Reform

Strengthening Communities Fund Offers Capacity-Building Grants

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress



Administration Releases Complete Details on Budget

On Monday, May 11, the Administration released the remaining portions of the fiscal year 2010 budget. CWLA has posted its annual comprehensive analysis of the President's budget. Overall funding in most child welfare categories did not increase dramatically, if at all, but there were some important new initiatives that signal where President Barack Obama intends to place his emphasis. As indicated in last week's report, the Administration's budget proposes $8.6 billion over 10 years for a new mandatory program that provides funds to states for home visiting programs. Much of the detail will not be filled in until Congress begins the legislative process; however, the Administration is seeking a program that will support evidence-based and evidence-informed models and not be restricted to one particular model. In the first year, $124 million in mandatory funding is proposed (with $87 million in outlays or actual spending taking place).

In addition to the home visiting proposal, the Administration is suggesting several budget changes promoted as a down payment on a comprehensive initiative for children ages zero to five. This initiative is intended as a way to strengthen and assist families with young children and it includes child care, Head Start, and the new home visiting proposal. Building on these programs, the Administration also includes in its Education Department budget a new fund of $300 million that will provide resources for competitive grants to state education agencies or state agencies that administer child care. The grants will be used to promote an integrated statewide structure for early learning. The Education Department will also have a new $500 million fund to promote pre-K programs. The grants, if funded, will be matching grants to states based on the Title I education formula grants.

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Budget Proposes Community-Based Innovation

The President has included in his 2010 Education Department's budget a $10 million allocation of funding for the President's "Promise Neighborhoods" initiative. As a candidate, the President indicated that he would try to replicate the Harlem Children's Zone model. The Harlem Children's Zone is a program that focuses on children's school-based progress from the very earliest years through graduation from high school. It is also a comprehensive family service program with the goal of eventually reducing poverty. The $10 million is intended as a way to provide $1 million start-up grants, with the strongest plans and programs able to come back a year later for funding to run their programs. In addition, a new community initiative was included as part of the new National Service reauthorization (the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act). The new fund would receive $50 million and will be called a Social Innovation Fund to support promising approaches for addressing a range of social challenges. The grants are expected to be from $1 million to $10 million per year for eligible organizations. The grantees will use funds not only to implement projects, but also to leverage other sources of funding from foundations and the private sector, as well as other government programs and funds.

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CWLA Submits Comments on New Tribal Title IV-E

On Monday, May 12, CWLA submitted comments on the new Title IV-E Tribal program expected to start this October. The new Title IV-E program was established by the Fostering Connections Act of 2008 (PL 110-351) and was one of its most significant elements. Starting on October 1, 2009, for the first time, tribal governments and consortia will be able to apply directly to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to establish their own foster care, adoption assistance, and kinship-guardianship programs using Title IV-E federal funds. In addition to applying and submitting a plan, tribes will have to provide matching funds, and so far at least 73 tribes in 21 states have indicated to HHS that they are interested in applying to run their own Title IV-E program. As Christine James-Brown, President and CEO of CWLA, indicated in her comments to HHS, "This new law provides an opportunity to address some of the current shortfalls in funding and can help to reverse a past history of policy that has not supported strong cooperative working relationships between mainstream public agencies and tribal governments. The opportunities presented in this new law can and should encourage collaboration between three key partners: tribal governments, state child welfare agencies, and the federal government, in particular the Department of Health and Human Services." There are numerous issues and implementation challenges that lie ahead, such as how to define the required matching rates for funding, what will count as the tribal match, defining service areas and the relationship and use of Chafee Independent Living funds. Read CWLA's comments online.

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CWLA Shares Recommendations for Health Reform

CWLA is committed to the goal of accessible, affordable, and comprehensive health coverage for all children and families. As the new Administration and Congress consider health reform, CWLA finds it essential that vulnerable populations such as children and youth in the nation's child welfare and foster care systems are not left behind. To this end, CWLA has put together a series of principles and recommendations for health reform. The recommendations include strengthening Medicaid by simplifying enrollment and renewal procedures; establishing therapeutic foster care as a Medicaid reimbursable service; extending Medicaid or other comprehensive health coverage to all youth formerly in foster care until at least age 21; and automatically, temporarily increasing the federal match for Medicaid programs in times of economic difficulty. The recommendations also stress the importance of significantly reducing or eliminating health disparities, enhancing service delivery for transition age youth, and ensuring that youth in and aging out of foster care have access to pregnancy prevention programs and comprehensive reproductive health and family planning services.

Many other groups have put forth similar principles for health reform. Several groups join CWLA in urging that the Medicaid program be strengthened as part of reform. Two such papers discussing Medicaid's role in health reform are available from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and Georgetown University Health Policy Institute's Center for Children and Families.

Both the House and Senate are working on comprehensive health reform legislation. The Senate Finance Committee has held roundtable discussions and released policy options papers on reforming the delivery system and expanding coverage. The Senate HELP Committee and the three committees in the House that share jurisdiction over health reform (Energy and Commerce, Education and Labor, and Ways and Means) are also diligently working on health reform legislation. The various bodies hope to have meaningful legislative action by the August congressional recess.

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Strengthening Communities Fund Offers Capacity-Building Grants

On Monday, May 11, the Administration announced the application process for funding to build the capacity of the nonprofit community. The Strengthening Communities Fund draws its funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and was included to help struggling nonprofit organizations. The total package is $50 million and will fund two-year projects in two forms: nonprofit capacity-building program grants and grants to state, local, and tribal government for capacity building. The grants may provide up to $1 million for the two-year period with a required match of 20% that can be matched with in-kind contributions.

The nonprofit capacity-building program provides grants to nonprofit and faith-based organizations whose mission is to assist families in communities experiencing economic distress. A successful lead organization will assess project partner ability to assist communities through capacity-building training, technical assistance, and competitive financial assistance. A minimum of 55% of the federal funds awarded must be provided to project partners through a competitive process. The state, local, and tribal government capacity-building program will make one-time awards up to $250,000 to offices responsible for outreach to faith-based and community organizations. The grants will assist in building capacity and the capacity of nonprofit faith-based and community organizations to better serve those in need.

Capacity building by definition includes at least one of five areas: organizational development, program development, collaboration and community engagement, leadership development, and evaluation of effectiveness. Capacity-building activities are designed to increase an organization's sustainability and effectiveness, enhance its ability to provide social services, and create collaborations to better serve those in need. The applications are due by July 7, 2009; more information is available online.

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Key Upcoming Dates for Congress

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
May 23-31: Memorial Day congressional break
June 27: Target date for House to complete work on appropriations
October 15: Deadline for budget reconciliation instructions


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