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

   
   
Vol. 22, Issue 20: 5/26/2009   
Headlines

Congress Examines Abusive and Deadly Use of Seclusion and Restraint in Schools

Deadline Approaches for Comment on Rescinding Medicaid TCM Regulation

Capitol Hill Gets Updates on the National Children's Study

New Report Covers Latino Youth in the Justice System

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress



Congress Examines Abusive and Deadly Use of Seclusion and Restraint in Schools

On Tuesday, the House Education and Labor Committee held a hearing to examine abusive and deadly use of seclusion and restraint in schools. A new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report documented hundreds of allegations over the past twenty years. Representative George Miller (D-CA) is the chair of the committee and presided at the hearing. Miller championed legislation earlier this year, the Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act, H.R. 911, which passed the House February 23.

The hearing featured moving testimony from Toni Price, foster mother of a child who died as a result of abusive treatment from a teacher. Her testimony generated much discussion among members of the committee at the hearing regarding the treatment of foster children in schools.

Gregory Kutz, GAO Managing Director of Forensic Audits and Special Investigations, testified about the new GAO report. He reported that the investigators found no federal laws restricting the use of seclusion and restraints in public and private schools, and widely divergent laws at the state level. He stated that although GAO continues to receive new allegations from parents and advocacy groups, in addition to the hundreds described in the report, GAO could not find a single website, federal agency, or other entity that collects information on the use of violence.

Elizabeth Hanselman, Assistant Superintendant for Special Education and Support Services for Illinois, testified that in her state, legislation (P.A. 91-600) was enacted a few years ago to specifically address the issues of seclusion and physical restraint in public schools. Those rules limit the employment of seclusion and physical restraint to be used only to preserve the safety of self or others, and expressly prohibit the use of seclusion or restraint for the purpose of punishment or exclusion.

In the case of seclusion, Illinois rules impose time limits, and require continuing visual monitoring of and communication with the student. In the case of physical restraint, the rules only allow the use of physical restraint when the student poses a physical risk to self or others, there is no medical contraindication to its use, and staff applying the restraint have been trained in safe application in accordance with the rules, within the past 2 years, as indicated by written evidence.

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Deadline Approaches for Comment on Rescinding Medicaid TCM Regulation

The deadline to submit comments in support of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposal to largely rescind the restrictive Medicaid Targeted Case Management (TCM) regulation is next Monday, June 1. CWLA encourages all stakeholders to comment and be on record in support of the rescission. The TCM regulation would have threatened access to health care and other needed services for our most vulnerable citizens, including children and youth in our nation's foster care system and would have shifted significant cost to states and localities in a time of serious economic downturn.

HHS's proposed rescission was published in the Federal Register on May 6. The announcement seeks to rescind the following controversial portions of the TCM regulation: the single case manager requirement; the "integral component" test that would have shifted cost to nonmedical programs such as child welfare and foster care; the requirement to unbundle Medicaid TCM services; and the restriction on Medicaid coverage for individuals transitioning to the community. The announcement would restore the status quo and leave in place provisions of the Deficit Reduction Act (DRA; P.L. 109-171) that prohibit foster care from billing Medicaid for the direct delivery of foster care services such as research gathering, assessing adoption placements, recruiting or interviewing potential foster care parents, serving legal papers, home investigations, and making placement arrangements. CWLA has worked in collaboration with a diverse coalition of child welfare, disability, and mental health organizations at the national, state, and local levels on this harmful regulation and we thank them and our members for their consistent advocacy on this matter!

In the same proposal, HHS seeks to entirely rescind two other controversial Medicaid regulations issued by the Bush Administration: the school-based services and outpatient services rules.

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Capitol Hill Gets Updates on the National Children's Study

A Congressional briefing was held Friday, May 15 by the Congressional Children's Study Working Group. Presenting at the briefing were Dr. Alan Fleishman, Senior Vice President and Medical Director at the March of Dimes Foundation, Dr. Michael Lu with the Center for Healthy Children, Families, and Communities at UCLA, and Dr. Nancy Dole, Co-Principal Investigator for the National Children's Study site in North Carolina. The presenters provided updates on the progress of the National Children's Study, which was slated for full funding in the President's recent budget proposals.

The National Children's Study will examine the effects of environmental influences on the health and development of more than 100,000 children across the United States, following them from before birth until age 21. The goal of the study is to improve the health and well-being of children. Currently, the study has begun at a site in rural North Carolina with plans to begin full-scale implementation within the next year. More information on the study is available online.

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New Report Covers Latino Youth in the Justice System

On May 20, National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and the Campaign for Youth Justice held a Capitol Hill briefing on Latino youth in the justice system. In addition, they released America's Invisible Children: Latino Youth and the Failure of Justice, the nation's first report on the status of Latinos in the juvenile and criminal justice systems. The briefing opened with some startling statistics regarding the incarceration of Latino youth. While we know that minority youth are disproportionately represented in every stage of the juvenile justice system, this report specifically documents Latino youth in the adult criminal justice system. Each year thousands of Latino youth are prosecuted in the adult criminal justice system, depriving them of rehabilitative opportunities, including education, mental health services, and other age-appropriate services that make it more likely that youth will become law-abiding, productive citizens. In addition, Latino youth prosecuted in the adult system can be held in adult jails and prisons where they are at great risk of suicide and sexual assault.

Although most studies analyzing disparities of the justice system start with arrest, disparities begin earlier, in the social contexts into which many Latino youth are born. For example, almost one-third of Latino children under age 18 (29%) were living in poverty in 2007, nearly three times the proportion of white non-Latino youth (10%). Whether children have equal access to quality early childhood programs, elementary and secondary education, afterschool programs, or health and mental health services, will produce outcomes that chronically favor or disfavor certain racial or ethnic groups, and have a direct impact on whether Latino youth enter the justice system. The report suggests that instead of locking up these youth who commit nonviolent offenses, focus should be placed on building culturally competent services and programs to serve the needs of Latino youth, families, and communities. In addition, recommendations are made to redirect resources from incarceration to build a network of community-based programs, because research shows that community-based intervention provides much greater outcomes than incarceration, which costs more and increases recidivism. The report concludes with recommendations for the reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) with emphasis being placed on keeping youth out of adult facilities. The full report and more information is available online.

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Key Upcoming Dates for Congress

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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