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

   
   
Vol. 22, Issue 42: 11/16/2009   
Headlines

Large Step Forward as House Passes Health Reform Bill

CWLA's 2010 National Conference: Attend Advocacy Day!

Senate May Stay In Session Near Thanksgiving, House May Work to Christmas Eve

Supreme Court Hears Case of Juveniles Offenders

Nearly 200 Groups Sign Up in Support of CAPTA

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress



Large Step Forward as House Passes Health Reform Bill

The House on Saturday, November 7 passed its comprehensive health reform bill, the Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962) by a vote of 220-215. A total of 39 Democrats voted against the bill's passage and one Republican--Representative Anh "Joseph" Cao from Louisiana's 2nd Congressional district--voted in favor of it. CWLA has prepared a summary of many of the bill's provisions that would impact vulnerable children, youth, and families. Among these is an expansion of the Medicaid program to cover all individuals below 150% of the federal poverty level (150% of FPL for 2009 is $16,245 for an individual and $27,465 for a family of three). The federal government would wholly pay for newly eligible individuals under this expansion for the first two years. Starting in 2015, the federal government would pick up 91% of the cost to cover the expansion populations, with the states contributing the remaining 9%.

H.R. 3962 would also extend the Medicaid and IV-E FMAP increase included in the recovery package for two quarters--through June 30, 2011. This would provide support for states in the continuing economic downturn so that they do not have to resort to cutting back health and foster care services. CWLA is also very pleased that the House has maintained two of our top priorities: protecting Medicaid reimbursement for the treatment in therapeutic foster care programs and new funding for home visitation programs.

With the House health reform bill passed, attention now turns to the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) has stated he could start the Senate's health reform debate as early as this week, but Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL) has stated they may need more time to secure enough votes.

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CWLA's 2010 National Conference: Attend Advocacy Day!

Registration is open for CWLA's 2010 national conference, Children 2010: Leading a New Era. The national conference is a month earlier this year--January 24-27, 2009--so it is important to register soon! At the conference, more than 120 child and family experts will report on timely and important topics like adoption, foster care, technology, executive leadership, early childhood and mental health, juvenile justice, and residential services.

Advocacy Day will be held in the middle of the national conference, on Tuesday, January 26. CWLA's Advocacy Day is the largest national advocacy event of the year for child welfare advocates and CWLA encourages all conference attendees to go to Capitol Hill and carry the message for the children, youth, and families you serve. Learn more about Advocacy Day, and register for the national conference now--early-bird rates are still available on the Conferences page.


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Senate May Stay In Session Near Thanksgiving, House May Work to Christmas Eve

Senate leadership has indicated the possibility that they may still be in session the weekend before Thanksgiving (November 22-23). With health care likely to take up much of the rest of this year for the Senate, it is possible they could be in town up to the week of Christmas and perhaps after. The House leadership has already indicated there is a possibility of working until Christmas Eve in an effort to try and get a bill. In addition to health care, Congress is dealing with two other major pieces of legislation, financial reform and global warming. Both have been debated in both chambers and the global warming proposal from the House has already passed. The Senate continues to struggle with appropriations, with every bill now facing lengthy debates that fall just short of being labeled a formal filibuster. It is certain that the only way several of the 12 appropriations bills will be passed is through an omnibus. There are not major differences in funding between the Senate and House versions of the appropriations bill that covers the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.

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Supreme Court Hears Case of Juveniles Offenders

Last Monday, the Supreme Court heard two cases regarding juvenile offenders who received sentences of life in prison without possibility of parole. The cases involve Joe Sullivan, who was found guilty of raping a woman when he was 13, and Terrance Graham, who pled guilty of committing armed burglary at 16. CWLA has signed on in support of an amicus brief in the cases claiming that the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment forbids sentencing individuals to life without the possibility of parole--essentially forcing them die in prison--for crimes other than homicide committed as juveniles.

Attorneys in the case made the argument that juveniles are different than adults. Juveniles are less culpable. Over time, they have the inherit capacity to change and potentially reform. In a similar case, the Court barred the execution of juvenile offenders in 2005 by a vote of 5 to 4, saying that people under 18 are immature, irresponsible, susceptible to peer pressure, and capable of change.

There are just over 100 people in the world serving sentences of life without the possibility of parole for crimes they committed as juveniles in which no one was killed. All are in the United States and 77 of them are in Florida. Louisiana has 17 such prisoners; California, Delaware, Iowa, Mississippi, Nebraska and South Carolina have the rest. It is unclear when an opinion will be forthcoming from the Court.

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Nearly 200 Groups Sign Up in Support of CAPTA

The National Child Abuse Coalition sent its final letter in support of increased CAPTA funding to the Obama Administration last week. The final letter included approximately 30 national organizations and more than 150 state and local organizations, many of which are CWLA member agencies. Fall is a very critical time for presidential administrations when it comes to crafting the federal budget. Various negotiations are taking place between the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and various departments including Health and Human Services (HHS). Earlier this fall Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Representative George Miller (D-CA) sent their own joint letter to the Administration in support of CAPTA increases. Both members are key leaders in the CAPTA reauthorization. The National Coalition's sign-on letter asks the administration to provide significant increases for CAPTA. CAPTA includes three programs with grants to the states to develop innovative approaches to improve their child protective service systems. CAPTA discretionary funds support state efforts to improve their practices in preventing and treating child abuse and neglect. These funds support program development, research, training, technical assistance, and the collection and dissemination of data to advance the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect. Finally, there are grants through the Community-Based Family Resource and Support Program that support efforts to develop, operate, and expand a network of community-based, prevention-focused family resource and support programs that coordinate resources among a range of existing public and private organizations.

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Key Upcoming Dates for Congress

November 25: Thanksgiving Break
December 11: Hanukkah Begins
December 18: Second Continuing Resolution Expires
December 25: Christmas Day


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